"SOLITAIRE MILES – SUSIE BLUE AND THE LONESOME FELLAS: This self-produced project is confounding, complex, joyful and ultimately brilliant. Miles, an accomplished and seasoned jazz vocalist, still is able to stretch herself with the Susie Blue persona. On the album, she cleverly leans on country, swing, pop and of course jazz. Instead of attempting to recreate the swing of the 1950s, Miles pays homage to it while challenging her band to create an authentic but new bedrock for her voice. Guitarist Neal Alger proves a formidable collaborator too, contributing arrangements that are another piece of the puzzle which makes Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas such a treasure – and my top Best of 2015" - Preston Frazier, Something Else Reviews

 

"Miles took a gig singing with a retro Western Swing band, fell in love with the material and created an alter ego, Susie Blue, to sing it.   Great Stuff, well played, Miles hitting every note.  I am not about to discourage anyone who can sing Western Swing this well" - Fred Smith, 3rd Coast Music

 

"A little bit of Western Swing, a bit of Chicago Jazz, a splash of Cowboy music, all mixed with the roaring Bebop sound of the 40’s and 50’s. This is Susie Blue And The Lonesome Fellas’ business card,  and the band is fronted by the beautiful voice of Solitaire Miles. This is not just country music, but it revisits the sound of the golden years in America, when at the top of charts were names like Wanda Jackson, Peggy Lee,   Floyd Tillman, Kay Starr  and Ted Daffan, who  are reinterpreted brilliantly and convincingly. 

The bands arrangement of "Ghost Riders in the Sky"  is  an anthem  for all cowboys of the world, and their jazzy,  Western Swing version is very original and combines the sound of the Great Plains with the smoke filled clubs of Chicago.   A brave album, and at the same time particular, ranging from country music, and fanning out into many directions thanks to the great voice of Solitaire Miles.   A sort of back to the future to the America of Dale Evans, of Bob Wills and Etta James,  projected to our times."- Gianluca Sitta - Planet Country IT

"Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas is a fun-filled outing that is a highly listenable example of the fusion between jazz and country that is known as western swing.  As you listen to the recording you will hear the jazz style phrasing that stems from the milieu where Miles normally performs.  She has an easy way with lyrics, and her smooth vocal instrument lies easily on your ears." - Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz

"You might not expect to encounter Western Swing coming from Chicago, but singer Solitaire Miles is doing a great job of reviving Cindy Walker and Spade Cooley on her new CD, "Susie Blue and The Lonesome Fellas." - Bruce Bergethon WGLT Radio

"Solitaire Miles is one of my favorite vocalists and I'm really excited about her new Western Swing project.  I was really impressed and bowled over by it, and I know that our listeners will eat it up" - Dr. Brian Clardy  at WKMS Radio

"Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas is one of the best and one of my favorite albums of 2015. REAL MUSIC!! you can still find it!!"   Keith Parnell, Americana 411

 

"If you don't know Solitaire Miles' jazz work, you'd assume she had always done western swing. Her country chops are deadly, her feel for the music deep and her treatment of it sure. There's no slumming here, no patronizing put-ons; just cool renditions of nearly-forgotten songs.Miles takes a group of writers who are not known in the public mind for sophisticated songs and shows us exactly how deeply into the human psyche their work penetrates. In addition to a history lesson, she offers fine vocals backed by a first-rate band. It's good stuff." - Michael Scott Cain, Rambles

Susie Blue  is Ms Miles' alter ego, in which she applies her luscious, slightly smoky humdinger of a voice - imagine a cross between the young Billie Holiday and the mature Patsy Cline, or a down-home Peggy Lee - to some classic country tunes (we're talking pre-1965

country, folks) with a combo that includes jazz cats Eric Schneider, country guys Tc Furlong and Stuart Rosenberg, who's conversant with both. Miles has an approach that's delightfully old-school without any cheesy retro accoutrements (remember that neo-swing/Lounge Nation trend in the 90's?), singing with the right blend of soulfulness and laid-back, hick cool. If you can dig both George Jones and Count Basie, Merle Hagard and Jane Monheit, hear this." - Mark Keresman, Icon

"Swing's the thing for sure when Pennsylvanian Solitaire Miles​ dons her alter-ego garb as Susie Blue to lead her Lonesome Fellas.  Here she becomes that which she emulates.  Recorded with traditional Western instrumentation of drums, bass, piano, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, fiddle and saxophone, the songs resonate with early country craziness.  Like a period-piece movie, Miles has made a valid, trad, every-note-in-place kind of Country Swing record that seemingly hasn't been made in years. Long may she swing."  - Mike Greenblatt, Classical Lite

"Singer Solitaire Miles has impressive jazz credentials forged by many nights in the most prestigious jazz clubs in Chicago and New York. It is in New Work in the mid ’90s, while working with trumpeter Doc Cheatham that she leaned even more toward swing.  Given Miles’ musical education, her Susie Blue persona may come as a surprise to some, but it is hardly a lark as the album Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas proves.  Solitaire Miles pulls out all the stops, engaging her musical muse in a way that employs the best elements of country/western and jazz. Guitarist Neal Alger proves a formidable collaborator, providing the arrangements for the album which incorporates a handpicked group of Chicago musicians.
A great example of this imaginative synthesis is the Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas version of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Solitaire Miles’ vocals are playful and sassy, but always in character. The arrangement by Neal Alger is authentic, jaunty and catchy. Eric Schneider’s tenor sax perfectly supports the theme.  This song, and the entire album, make for adventurous listening. Solitaire Miles’ Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas is not to be missed." - Preston Frazier - Something Else Reviews

 

"Listening to singer Solitaire Miles is like stepping into a time machine and going back to a bygone era of great female jazz singers. With a clear, clean voice and keen sense of phrasing, Miles belongs to another period in time before screeching and electronic pitch correction came into popularity.  A first rate presentation of classic tunes and  of course the star of it all is Miles herself, with a honey-smooth voice and confident annunciation - she truly knows these songs inside and out. Nicely done!"  - Brad Walseth

 

"Solitaire Miles’ usual gig is jazz, but on this album she stretches out into Western swing territory, performing classic songs from the likes of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley — songs like “I’ll Never Be Free,” “Crazy ‘Cause I Love You,” and “Hang Your Head in Shame.” Miles’ style is more torchy and bluesy than honky-tonky, and her backing band is minimal (no big horn sections here). As a result, this album comes across as more of a personal interpretation of the Western swing tradition than a simple celebration of it, and that makes it both stronger and more interesting than a straight genre exercise would have been. And she’s got a great voice.  Recommended.  - Rick Anderson - CD Hotlist
 

"After establishing herself as one of the most talented and integral vocalists of the Chicago Jazz scene, bringing together some of the most well known musical talents, and creating a plethora of standout hits, Solitaire Miles’ latest album has seen a reinvention of herself.

In ‘Susie Blue & The Lonesome Fellas’, Miles leaves behind the safety of her already well developed sound, and strides brilliantly into the world of Western Swing. She doesn’t make the transition alone however, enlisting a talented lineup of known musicians such as Neal Alger, Larry Kohut and Phil Gratteau, who fill their roles perfectly.   With a track listing of Western Swing classics, reinvigorated by Miles upbeat vocals, the album stands on strong ground. Although predominantly an album of cover songs, there is no lack of talents and originality present, and while the invigoration of Western Swing might not be to everyone’s taste, Miles’ mission to champion the genre in the 21st Century is certainly starting on a high." - Anthem Review

"Just when you think gals are becoming an endangered species, a well pedigreed jazz singer goes looking for some new challenges and
finds western swing right around the next corner. Recruiting some of the crème of the crop of contemporary Chicago, these new interpretations of western swing classics hit the target with room to spare. A tasty set of retro-nouveau vibes, Miles and company might be working outside the current mainstream here but they don't make something you need obscure taste to enjoy and appreciate.

Chops are chops are they are here by the truck load.  Well done. " - Midwest Record

"A true artist never lets such periphery as genre myopia circumvent their creative process. However, it sometimes takes a concerted effort on their part to convince their faithful to follow suit. Chicago, Illinois-based vocalist Solitaire Miles has apparently encountered a bit of resistance within her own circle of observers in light of this most recent project.   Long established as a world class interpreter of material by such stalwarts of jazz as Billie Holiday and Mildred Bailey, Miles has taken the not so giant step of embracing Western Swing.  As such, it is no surprise that Miles’ initial venture into her Susie Blue And The Lonesome Fellas persona finds her both completely at ease with and in complete command of the genre. Herein, she successfully delivers faithful yet personable takes , With most capable support from such sympathetic musicians as Patricia Barber sidemen Neal Alger  and Larry Kohut, as well as Jump ’N The Saddle slide

guitarist T.C. Furlong, Miles has herein taken a most necessary and welcome step of bridge building."

- Michael McDowell - Blitz Magazine

"Solitaire Miles is known for her gorgeous jazz vocals. On her new release, 'Susie Blue And The Lonesome Fellas', she goes in a somewhat new direction, delving into country and western swing. The results are wonderful.  " - Michael Doherty - Michaels Music Log

"There are a lot of female singers singing the old songs these days, but I can't think of another singer who sings the kind of songs Solitaire Miles has chosen for her new CD. Trifles are treated like masterpieces, and that's Miles' secret weapon. She never condescends to the material, but instead invests it with utter commitment and lots of love. Taste, too.  - John Chacona, Erie Times

"Solitaire Miles has the jazz stylings of Billie Holiday, and the attention grabbing stage presence of Mick Jagger." - Al Lubiejewski  WQLN Radio/Erie Times News

"We can learn a lot from the way Miles informs each song with impeccable intonation, flexible phrasing, and historical insight. She can
take an obscure Billie Holiday song and recreate it in her own style without sacrificingthe mood of it's time." -Marion Herschberger Brooklyn Free Press

"On her new project "Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas"  Solitaire Miles sounds like a cross between Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline" - Ken Decker

 

"I absolutely love the new Western Swing album by Solitaire Miles.   She has a wonderful knack of picking out classic songs and interpreting them in a great way.   Her tremendous voice  has transitioned  easily from Jazz to Western Swing, and although there are people who may be used to hearing her sing nothing but Jazz, they have to consider that good music is just good music, and that she and her band have done a great job of reviving Western Swing.  It's music that my listeners will love  because it's familiar and they will remember the tunes, but Miles has done them in a fresh, authentic way, breathing life into them and making them sound brand new.  We'll proudly play Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas, and I think that when our listeners hear the songs they will love them, I guarantee it. " - Scott Wikle of "My Kind of Country" - Fish Creek Radio

 

"I  love Solitaire Miles new recording "Susie Blue" and play it often on my show "Jazz Insights" on 91.9 WFPK Radio Louisville. Miles and her musicians create a perfect blend of jazz and country swing, Something different and very enjoyable for my listeners." - Danny O'Bryan Jazz DJ and Journalist at WFPK Radio
 

Reviews are still coming in, crossing over  Americana, Roots, Jazz and Western Swing  genres, with Journalists and DJ's applauding the new album . . .

 

"Vocalist Solitaire Miles comes out of the Patsy Cline tradition. She sings Western swing material with warm highs and holds her lows neatly. There's a jazziness about Miles's phrasing, but she holds fast to a sound reminiscent of roadside bars where just three people are left near closing at the pinball machine. Solid accompaniment by jazz-influenced sax, fiddle, guitar, slide guitar, piano, bass and drums.  I'm a Fool to Care says it all.  Same goes for I'll Never Be Free."  Wall Street Journal

 

"Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas includes some of Chicago's best Jazz and Country players.  The group is pure Cowboy Jazz, and Miles adds a lively vocal style that brings to mind a winning blend of Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday. " - Downbeat Magazine

"Savvy souls know there's a big difference between Country music and Western music. Western Swing band Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas were rightfully  honored in Fort Worth at the Academy of Western Artists' 20th annual Will Rogers Awards for 'Best Western Swing Song'" - Billboard Magazine

 

"Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas is a new album of Western Swing which  is popular with many folks,  and I do think this group does it very well,  it's a lovely album." -Marie Crichton BBC Radio

 

"You can't listen to western swing and not smile, it's impossible not to smile, it's feel good music.  Her voice is wonderful, what an instrument." - Michael Feldman, NPR

 

"Solitaire Miles may be best known for jazz, but the vocalist is on a new adventure involving Western Swing leading Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas.  The Academy of Western Artists awarded the band with Western swing song of the year. " 

- Jessi Virtusio, Chicago Tribune

 

"In her home base of Chicago Solitaire Miles boasts an avid following as a singer equally at home with jazz and swing. Given that combination of styles, it’s no surprise—but an unexpected delight—to hear what she can do with western swing, which is not all that far removed from what she has been doing for years now. In her guise as Susie Blue, with her band (many of them her regular bandmates) billed as The Lonesome Fellas, she deploys her warm, sultry voice on choice material, strictly top drawer fare, from some of the most important songwriters in western swing history..."  David McGee, Deep Roots Magazine

 

"Solitaire Miles' dynamic voice perfectly fits the light-hearted and fun Western Swing genre.  Performing great tunes made famous by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Spade Cooley and Cindy Walker, Solitaire and her musicians are not content to merely recreate the past but are creative within the style, adding to the music's legacy.  While Solitaire can name a long list of influences like Mary Ford, Patsy Cline or Kay Starr, she does not sound exactly like any of the singers who preceded her, nor do her sidemen sacrifice their own individuality while doing justice to the material.  Instead, they all fully understand the music and are able to add their own voices to the songs while being themselves.  Wherever they appear, Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas can be relied upon to provide lively music and a fun time.  This delightful group not only proves that there is still plenty of life to be found in Western Swing tunes, but it features Solitaire Miles at her very best, taking her place as one of the top swing  singers around today." – Scott Yanow

"Few styles are as enjoyable as Western Swing, and it’s a pity that so few artists do it these days. The band Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas takes you back to the days of Cindy Walker and Kay Starr, with the husky voice of Solitaire Miles along with Chicago's best jazz and country musicians.  They get the crowd on the floor with syncopated honky tonking featuring Spade Cooley’s “Crazy Cause I Love You” and Left Frizzell’s  “Cigarette and Coffee Blues.” Who has song titles like these anymore?  Miles is a joy as she does a handful of Walker tunes, with “I Hear You Talkin’” just oozing out over the brim and “Love is a Lingering Thing” delivered with a twinkle in her eye. All of the tunes are between 2-4 minutes, so you feel like you’re listening to tunes at the juke box on the counter alongside your hash browns. This band takes you to a place you want to be." - George W Harris, Jazz Weekly

 

"Miles has a similar voice to Kay Starr and uses it to great affect. The album is a great mix of country ballads, old time fiddle music and Swing. The band is perfect with plenty of slide and piano and added sax with nothing forced, just plain and simple.  She does a heartfelt version of "I'm a Fool to Care" which is almost worth buying the whole album for that one song alone.  Think Bob Wills, Asleep at the Wheel , with a touch of Hank Williams." - Rick Meek,  Blue Suede News Magazine

 

“Solitaire Miles has a voice that makes you think she’s opened a hole in the fabric of  time and stepped right out of 1939.   After spending 20 years singing jazz and big band, her chops are ripe for this kind of reckless Western Swing." - J. M. Reid - the Kent Observer

 

"Miles knows that the best way to authenticate songs is to inhabit them entirely.  By investing them with her own personality, as did her predecessors of the 1940s and 50s, she can make them sound nearly as fresh as they did when first performed.   By willing herself into the world-view of their original creators, she avoids any hint of camp.   Like a guided missile from the past, Solitaire Miles  homes in on modern sensibilities in her approach.  In interviews she has stated her desire to re-create the historical context – and especially the emotional context – in which these songs first appeared, yet also bring something  personal to her interpretations.

Miles’s timbre offers a good amount of variety. Up top, it skips with a light clarity; in the huskier mid-range, where she mostly lives, there’s some salt and some molasses, and the cool intimacy of a gin martini.  Her lowest notes have a bit of the throaty warble that made June Christy, Chris Connor, and their cool-school successors such appealing poster girls for the 50s.  Miles sings the melodies and swings the rhythms with just enough lilt, letting her smoky voice carry the day. " - Neil Tesser

"Solitaire Miles, a wonderful Chicago area jazz and swing singer has just recorded and released this fantastic album of 12 Western Swing standards. She also surrounds herself with seven very talented musicians. Neal Alger plays super lead guitar and TC Furlong plays dynamite steel guitar. The hot swing fiddle player is Stuart Rosenberg with Eric Schneider playing sax and Tom Hope behind the piano. The rhythm section features Larry Kohut on bass and Phil Gratteau, the drummer.  The album has huge hit potential" - Mike Gross, Swingin' West