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Bogguss sees a return a happenin'

By Brian Wahlert, July 1998

One of the greatest albums of country's renaissance in the early Nineties has to be Suzy Bogguss' "Aces." With hits like the Nanci Griffith acoustic folk number "Outbound Plane," the plaintive Cheryl Wheeler title song, Ian Tyson's rodeo classic "Someday Soon" and the Doug Crider/Matt Rollings composition about going away to college, "Letting Go," Bogguss appeared to be country's next superstar.

In 1992 the Country Music Association rewarded Bogguss with its Horizon Award, echoing the praise that critics and fans had heaped upon her for her beautiful soprano voice and outstanding song selection.

But commercially, Bogguss has never again been able to reach that same level of success, not so much because her music has changed, but because the country scene has changed around her.

As the Nineties progressed, radio became less open to the folkier side of country, and Bogguss' hits, like "Drive South" and "Hey Cinderella," became fewer and farther between.

Now she's back with the very good "Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurt," her first album since 1996's "Give Me Some Wheels." But first things first - where hasshe been for the past two years?

"Just kind of baby-sitting, mostly," she says with a contented laugh, referring to her son Ben, who's almost three. "You know, I did not have any clue as to how much I was going to love being a mom, and it just really took first priority over everything. And I wanted this next album to be really great, so I decided to just collect myself."

For many country artists, getting back on the road after having children is difficult, but Bogguss has solved that problem - she just takes Ben with her. "When we're out on the road doing dates, it's pretty fun for him really because I have all day until 4 with him, and we go out and look for parks and zoos and things like that...So he gets a lot of attention that way and we get to do a lot of fun things and see the cities that we're in."

The new album is a typically great mix of songs from some of the best songwriters in country and folk music, people like Kim Richey, Matraca Berg, Bobbie Cryner, Tony Arata and Wheeler. The only odd thing is that Bogguss, a very good songwriter in her own right, has only two of her own songs on the album.

"You know what," she says, "I had more songs when I started out, and I justhad to bump them because I kept finding great songs...It's really hard when you have to bump one of your own songs because somebody else said it better, but it happens."

In addition to all of the great songwriters whose work appears on the new disc, Bogguss has also assembled a wide array of Nashville's top singers and musicians. Famous names include Patty Loveless and Garth Brooks, and one particularly beautiful song features Trisha Yearwood and Alison Krauss."Last year about this time, I was in England doing some shows with Trisha Yearwood and Alison Krauss, and we had done this big show in Manchester, England, and we didn't have any finale planned at all. So...between each other's shows, we were learning 'Farther Along,' which is an old standard song, but The Trio had done it, Emmylou and Dolly and Linda Ronstadt. So we thought, 'Well that'll be a good one. We can pull that one together really quick.' So we just did it with one guitar, and it was so magical. I mean, we all were just, like, shaking afterwards. It was so cool. Because we didn't know what our voices would sound like together, and it ended up just sounding really cool. So we swore that we were going to make a record together...and three days before I went in the studio, 'Train of Thought' fell in my lap."

Not only is Bogguss a great singer and songwriter, but she also produces herown albums. This time around, her husband, songwriter Doug Crider, joined her in the studio as co-producer.

"I've always been a huge fan of his as a producer," Bogguss says. "But we don't really do things exactly the same. We just had a real similar vision with this album...I really wanted to do a real spontaneous raw record. And that's what Doug does best...It really helped us keep that freshness in the feeling of the song because he would just keep me from overworking something...There's much more rawness in this record than in past ones."

Not surprisingly, it took a fair amount of security and confidence in their relationship for Bogguss and Crider to work together in the studio. Years ago, when they were first married, they would let domestic affairs get in the way of their co-writing.

But during the production of this album, she says with obvious joy, "We didn't fight at all. It was amazing. We didn't have tiffs over anything. And I think that we really have in the past few years gained such a mutual respect for each other that we were able to just do it as if we were not married to each other, do it as if we were just people that knew each other very well."

Talking to Bogguss, one realizes that she's in a very happy place in her life right now. Even at this particular moment, with the album just released, the media blitz going full steam, and Bogguss having arrived in Nashville just in time for Fan Fair after trips to New York and Los Angeles, she sounds thrilled about her family, her album and her tour.

"I have a killer band that's just inspiring me right now. They just blow my mind and make me sing good. They make me want to just jump out of my skin sometimes and be some monster singer, but I still have the voice of Doris Day, so I can only go so far with that," she laughs.

She even waxes hopeful about the current state of commercial country music. "I'm feeling that the cycle is turning around. I don't know if it's just my cockeyed optimism or if it really is. But I do feel like they're starting to let a few of us back in that have been gone for a little while, and they're realizing that you can continue to make great music. People like Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton...are able to continue to grow and evolve as writers and singers and musicians, and that's what I want to do. I mean, I'm hoping to have a huge long career."