Considering that powerhouse veteran rocker, Irish music enthusiast and singer/songwriter Susan Wendelken makes no bones about the audacious ambition she brings to releasing her solo debut album Alayne’s Echo at a world wise 51, it makes sense to take at least a casual dive into her previous endeavors, musical and otherwise.
While we learn that the onetime teen metalhead and darling of the NYC pub scene has been played on Howard Stern, fronts the party rock bands The Boilermakers and Sweet Fancy Moses, plays weddings and Irish events with The Andy Cooney Band and, as leader of One Step Beyond, once opened for Black Sabbath. In her civilian life as a successful insurance industry talent acquisition specialist, she leads her LinkedIn page with the bold assertion: “Transforming new acquaintances into new colleagues since 2006.”
For those who haven’t had the privilege of hearing Wendelken in any of her previous or ongoing musical incarnations, a similar transformation from curious listener to instant fan will no doubt happen the minute they get an earful of her supple, always edgy and emotional, sometimes guttural yet often vulnerable voice on tunes like “Spectator” (the feisty Irish rocker that kicks off the album), the jangling and infectious, mandolin tinged “Rewrite” (her 2020 single recorded mixed and produced by Grammy winner Cynthia Daniels) or the plucky, fiddle-happy country rockin’ jig “I Know You Know.”
While Wendelken’s often fiery, rough and tumble vocals and attitude seem best suited for mid-tempo romps like “(You Don’t Have To) Love It Or Leave it” and hard-chugging barnburners like “Downer” and “Limbo,” the singer is also beautifully effective conveying the subtler shades of the heartfelt and heartache on tracks like the regret-soaked “Wasted Years” and the slow-simmering rock ballad “Warm Body.” Assuming that she can find time amidst her typical schedule balancing corporate life and nonstop gigging, Wendelken will hopefully build on this impressive indie project and develop a substantial and impactful career as a solo artist.