Her latest album, A Girl in Teen City, is Oh Susanna's seventh, but it's the first batch of her own material in a half-dozen years. For 2014's Namedropper she solicited songs from fellow songwriters. That record was delayed because of the singer-songwriter's successful battle with breast cancer. As such, A Girl in Teen City, an exquisite song cycle set in 1980s Vancouver, represents a second coming for the rootsy Toronto-based songstress.
Oh Susanna is the stage name of Suzie Ungerleider. That the conceptual new album's protagonist is a teenage punk girl named Suzie is no coincidence – the project is autobiographical. In a press release, Ungerleider describes the character as someone in search of identity, "falling in love, getting drunk, having her heart broken, hanging out with friends in bedrooms, basements and parking lots, sneaking into shows in burnt out warehouses, watching the waves, walking home over bridges and railroad tracks in all that endless rain."
She's singing about herself, Vancouver and maybe you, too. The album ends with Old Vancouver, a metaphorical ode to a city in its scrappier, transitional days. And while the singer-songwriter's own story of adolescence and personal gentrification is site specific, her thoughtful and tuneful coming-of-age is universal. After years of Oh Susanna's acquaintance, it's pleasure to find out we're still getting to know Ungerleider.
Oh Susanna launches A Girl in Teen City on June 1, 9 p.m. $20 to $25. Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton St., ticketfly.com.