Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Susan Rae Hill, better known as Susan Ashton, was born on July 17, 1967 in Irving, Texas.  In 1991 she released her debut album WAKENED BY THE WIND which includes one of my favourite songs of hers, ‘Down on My Knees’.  She was nominated for a Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.  1992 saw her release ANGELS OF MERCY which garnered four #1 CCM singles.  She teamed up with Margaret Becker and Christine Dente in 1994 to form the trio that released the wonderful album ALONG THE ROAD.  Susan opened for Garth Brooks in Europe that same year.  He later recorded his own version of her single ‘You Move Me’.  Over the years Susan has continued recording both Christian and country music.  She has though had her share of difficulties including a divorce, financial problems, and some friends abandoning her.  Her latest recording is the six song EP called THIEF (2013, Be Music and Entertainment).  On it, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Michael Blanton handle the production.  Susan’s bio states: “Every song is personal and bears the marks of a life still standing after weathering the storms.”

Former White Heart guitarist Gordon Kennedy is one of the co-writers of the album’s opener, a slow country tune, called ‘Moonshine’.  The song speaks to me about temptation: “It’s charming, enchanting/A mystical sight/There on the surface/It all feels alright/But at the end of the day/It’s just borrowed light/There’s a dark side to the/Moonshine.”  ‘Love is Alive’ was written by Gary Wright in 1976.  This upbeat country hit has also been recorded by the likes of Joe Cocker and Joan Osborne.  Susan’s interpretation includes Phil Madeira on the B3.  The song’s lyrics speak about being captivated by another in a good way: “There’s something inside/That’s making me crazy/I’ll try to keep it together/’Cause what I say may not happen the same way/Now could be forever.../There’s a mirror moving inside my mind/Reflecting the love that you shine on me/Hold on now to that feeling/Let it flow, let it grow, yeah.”

‘Thief’ the title track, is one of three songs in a row that former FFH member Michael Boggs co-writes.  ‘Thief’ is a bare bones ballad with a haunting delivery.  These words from it could either refer to the dangerous effects of a male ‘bad apple’ or the devil himself on her: “You walked into my world/Like a dancer/A smooth romancer/And as we floated and we twirled/I was taken and swept away/Ain’t it just like you/Twistin’ me and all my truth/You mesmerize till I no longer recognize/What I believe/Thief.”  ‘Become Myself’ has Matt Slocum on cello, but really finds Susan rocking out!  It seems to be an autobiographical song that expresses deep gratitude to our Father in heaven: “I’ve been the belle of the ball/Been the flower on the wall, oooh/I’ve been the star of the show/Been the low man on the totem pole, oooh.../God hovers over chaos/And He hovers over me/He makes all things beautiful/And it’s beautiful to see.”

‘The Wrong Well’ makes me think of false religions: “When you’re drinkin’ water from/The wrong well/You’re dyin’ of thirst/But you can’t tell/And every sip you take/Leads a little closer to hell/When you’re drinkin’ water from/The wrong well/It looks like life/But it’s stealin’ your soul.”  ‘Not Small’ is a soft  song with Jimmie Lee Sloas on bass and Jim Hoke on pedal steel guitar.  It puts into words the longings of many lonely children and adults in our break-neck speed society: “See me, I’m standing right in front of you/See me, can you give me/Just a little validation?/Can you hear me and I don’t mean just listen?/I mean hear me, treat me like I have somethin’ worth sayin’?”

THIEF is a strong EP.  Susan’s vocals are as good as ever.  Her Christian music with a country feel sets her apart from the wide field of Christian female adult contemporary and pop artists.  She has something unique to offer musically.  In her thank you’s she includes Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley, and Andy Stanley.  Fans of Shawn Colvin, Kim Hill, and Carrie Underwood should pick this EP up.  I’m rating it 87%.  For more info on Susan’s music and what makes her tick, visit