Rhythm & Views

Suzanna Choffel

Blending soul, jazz and pop can be tired and bland, but Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter Suzanna Choffel infuses her songs with an invigorating breath of freshness and cool. And, sure, there are a lot of female musicians out there who audibly take after Ani DiFranco, but few can actually manipulate that inspiration into something beyond derivative.

When Choffel plucks her guitar gently at the beginning of "The Challenge" and delivers her lyrics softly but confidently, the same understated power that made songs like "32 Flavors" the anthem of millions of teenage girls takes on a new form. Choffel is not one to gloss over emotional complexities--she sings about liking life better alone ("Pack Light") and a one-night stand not going anywhere ("Since Friday Night"): "My love can breathe like a newborn baby, but that love will never be ours, and that's OK, that's just fine, I'd prefer it stay just mine."

Subtle undercurrents of electronic ambience keep the focus on Choffel's sultry and bending voice and her bright guitar. On the jazzy "Messenger," Choffel's guitar is clean and crisp, and on "Since Friday Night," it gets injected with just enough reverb to rough things up a bit. "The Race" starts as a simple waltz and, with the strike of a glockenspiel, morphs into pop perfection, and "Weeds" moves between Latin rhythms and lounge, all while Choffel cries out lines like, "Give me something I can sink my teeth into until it bleeds" with serenity.