There’s something in the water down in Texas. You’ve got Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé in recent years, but for decades American music has been greatly indebted to an endless list of brash Texans giving the rest of the country the ol’ what-for by neglecting to keep them in the same conversation as Tennessee’s music scene. You’ve got icons Selena, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Stevie Ray Vaughan for starters, and with Ice & Fire from Suzanne’s Band, there’s another name to carve into the famed Texas musician halls: Mia Suzanne Walker.
Ice & Fire functions as Suzanne’s Band’s second album to release within Walker’s solo career, following 2020’s well-received independent full-length release Back To You and “Underneath the Tree,” a single released for Christmas in 2021. Establishing Walker’s songwriting as a crucial component in modern independent music, Ice & Fire manages to not only flex the southern blues and rock genre side of Walker’s portfolio, but it expresses a vital understanding of maintaining an emotional interior with softer moments other artists might choose to neglect or ignore altogether.
It’s not with every album that a musician can pen something that could be taken as the next James Bond theme (see title track “Ice and Fire”) before pivoting into something as emotionally raw and vulnerable as they come (“Reach You”), but Walker can tiptoe the line with the magic act of pulling it off becoming all the more enjoyable to pay attention to as you see the various pieces connect to form the bigger picture.
Album opener “Back To Brown” starts with a bang, setting the stage for fans of the genre with a send-up to the tried and true sounds of country-driven rock and roll, but everything beyond this initial track pushes the album’s boundaries further out. The remarkable act of never feeling stretched thin is the thing worth marveling at, as both the lyrical content and musical compositions feel at home in every change of scenery. Another album standout comes in the form of “By The Bayou,” which uses nostalgia and memory-play to great effect with its bittersweet, poignant lyrics and spot-on melody.
Suzanne’s Band gives listeners a refreshing taste of old and new, providing anyone listening with the chance to kick off their shoes or paint the town red — each song within Ice & Fire provides a soundtrack to a different type of mood and anthem, and fans will find themselves suited to every second of it the more the LP reveals itself to them.
Modern independent music has suffered a massive drought in the rock genre and its offshoots more than anything else in recent years, but it’s projects like Ice & Fire that give hope and stoke the metaphorical fire that will eventually light the way for the mainstream return of the genre. Suzanne’s Band are trailblazers as much as they feel like classic legends of the genre, and I know I’ll be there for the next project with open ears, ready to pay full attention to whatever they have to say.