John P. McLaughlin, The Vancouver Province 2005
"Malcolm has been around the Vancouver scene for some 20 years and this is her first solo project. She's surrounded herself with some hotshot players and is certainly in fine voice but the real star is the nicely varied choice of songs, ranging from Pop Stoneman's grand old 'Blueridge Mountain Blues' and A.P. Carter's 'River of Jordan' to the more contemporary 'Red Clay Halo' from Gillian Welch and Malcolm's own, lovely 'Amber Eyes'. Bless her for including Betty McDaniel's 'Let's Be Sweethearts Again' but Malcolm truly shines on the classic 'You Don't Know Me'. Fine stuff."
Joseph Blake, Victoria Times-Colonist, March 2005.
Vancouver's Sue Malcolm has been a force on the city's vibrant bluegrass scene for over two decades. Highrise Lonesome (Lynn Canyon Music) is her recording debut as a leader, and it's a gem. Malcolm has a crisp, clear voice, like the proverbial high lonesome sound the recording's title ironically references. She's joined by an all-star and in a California studio to produce an eclectic collection of bluegrass, western swing, old-time country and gospel music. Paul Shelasky's fiddle stands out on 'Right or Wrong' and I love his fiddle with Janet Beazley's banjo and harmony vocals on Malcolm's joyous reading of Gillian Welch's 'Red Clay Halo'. Beazley produced and engineered the recording, and it's as clean and uncluttered as Malcolm's approach to country singing. This is the real deal.
John Cody, canadianchristianity.com, April 2006.
Sue Malcolm is a Vancouver treasure. Whether she’s running her Slow Pitch jams, playing bluegrass with False Creek, or entertaining children as the leader of the Buddy System, the woman gets around. A formidable presence both on and off stage, Highrise Lonesome is her first ever solo release. Great title, too. There’s a bit of old time country, some hard driving fiddle, but mostly, it’s straight, unadulterated bluegrass. She sticks to vocals throughout, bringing in a varied cast of support players that lets her shine. While certainly not a gospel album, Bluegrass is so tied to the form that it’s pretty hard to find a release that doesn’t include a spiritual. In this case, it’s ‘River of Jordan,’ one of the disc’s standouts. Another is a cover of the late Betty McDaniel’s (Chaba) ‘Let’s Be Sweethearts’ which has never been recorded before. McDaniels was well loved within the local Christian community, and it’s great to see her music continue to reach new fans.
Country Music News, February 2005
Sue Malcolm has long been a staple on the British Columbia bluegrass and traditional country music scene, as a player, band member and a music teacher; but Highrise Lonesome marks her debut on a solo disc… and it’s simply a marvelous collection….which begs the question: why has this taken so long? The album is a pure treasure of barebones acoustic music; covering country, bluegrass, swing and pop/jazz flavored material, done in a totally refreshing vocal style by Malcolm, reminiscent of the past solo offerings of fellow Canuck, Cindy Church. Sue Malcolm also shows a flair for writing a solid tune, with the album’s title track High Rise Lonesome, and the luscious Amber Eyes, both original compositions. She piggybacks those domestic offerings with a rendition of the uplifting Let’s Be Sweethearts Again, penned by the late Betty McDaniel, noted for her country/gospel work on the West Coast landscape. All other items here are covers of country, bluegrass and swing tunes; all done with some minor adaptation to make the old standards fresh and vibrant again. Malcolm runs the full gamut of music styles here, scoring heavily with a scrumptious vocal rendition of You Don’t Know Me, which was first a 1956 Top 10 hit for Eddy Arnold, and later (1981) a #1 country hit for Mickey Gilley.; and the jazz/swing oldie You’re There, which was originally done by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, but covered best (until now) by the unheralded Skeets McDonald. There’s more of the Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys touch in a bouncy rendition of Right Or Wrong (which contemporary fans will relate more to versions by Asleep & The Wheel and George Strait); and some traditional country/bluegrass in Pretending I Don’t Care, the old Jimmy Martin nugget which was recently updated by Rhonda Vincent; and the energized Blue Night, which has been done before by everyone from Bill Monroe, Hot Rize and Mitch Harrell to Mary Chapin Carpenter. Sue Malcolm’s remarkable ability to pull out an old ‘chestnut’ from the song vaults extends to versions of The Stoneman’s Blueridge Mountain Blues (also covered by Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, etc); to The Carter Family’s River Of Jordan; and even resurrecting I’ve Got A Right To Cry, which was originally a hit record for Hank Williams Jr; and more recently covered by Mandy Barnett. Sue Malcolm also includes a tasty interpretation of the Gillian Welch tune Red Clay Halo showing she also has an ear for today’s music. The album was recorded, for the most part, at New Wine Studio in Hesperia, California ... and features a strong contingent of California-based musicians; all of whom add their wonderful playing to the smooth, authentic bluegrass/ country vocal stylings of Sue Malcolm. It all makes for one of those “don’t miss” albums.
Joe Weihe, Victory Music Review, March 2005
There are only a few albums I want to listen to over and over. Highrise Lonesome is one of them. This is absolutely one of the most impressive first efforts I've ever heard. Sue Malcolm has been a regular on the Vancouver (BC) bluegrass scene for many years and her friends have been encouraging her to record for a long time. Her voice is clean, sweet and smooth and she moves between bluegrass, gospel, swing and country with effortless grace. Dead-on pitch and a straight ahead vocal style lends credence to the jazzier tunes like the classic 'You Don't Know Me' as well as a killer bluegrass version of 'Blue Night'. The beautiful Malcolm original 'Amber Eyes' is an instant 'old country' standard, and her arrangement of the Fred Rose western swing tune 'You're There' updates a classic while maintaining the original flavor. I've never heard a nicer version of 'I've Got a Right To Cry', and the gospel harmonies on 'River of Jordan' are rich and beautifully arranged. Paul Shelasky, Garry Stevenson, Ivan Rosenberg, Chris Stuart, Mason Tuttle, Marshall Andrews, Westy Westehofer and Eric Uglum make up an all star cast of acoustic musicians, and under the experienced direction of Producer Janet Beazley at New Wine Studio in California (who also contributes her considerable skills on the banjo and some exceptional harmony vocals), they've put together a real winner. This album features a wonderful selection of great songs, well recorded, and offered up with a rare level of taste and musicianship, but it is Sue's outstanding vocals that weave it all together. Put Highrise Lonesome at the top of your shopping list.
Robert Meme, DJ in Bellingham, WA
Stunning, beautiful production, sounds absolutely georgous in headphones. The music caught me by surprise, delighting me at every turn. Highrise Lonesome will be heading straight into heavy rotation. And I'm only on Amber Eyes ... lovely Django thing going on there. Thanks ever so much, Sue!
Jim Witiw, Peace River, AB
I've very rarely ever purchased a CD where there was not at least one song that would take sometime to grow attached to. I can honestly say that this was not the case with this one. An absolute delight from track 1 to finish ("skull-candy" as the youth would call it today). The mix is excellent, the variety of musicians and musicianship technically tight, and the vocals strong, clear and a fine blend. And of course, the old-time swing emphasis and very subtle jazz atmosphere was a very pleasing bonus. 2 thumbs up (and a pair of big toes) on this one !! [PS: False Creek was a clear "blueclass act". Way to go folks! Well executed. Looking forward to the next release.]