Listening to Glenn Sutter (‘sue-ter’), either solo or with his band Rivertime, is like catching up with an old friend. After getting bogged down with the stress and complexities of daily life, you suddenly feel a sense of contentment and are reminded of what’s truly important. With his uplifting brand of folk-rock, Sutter’s honest, smart, and emotional songs have been hitting home and attracting the attention of music lovers across Canada for almost a decade.
Based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Sutter frequently writes about nature, environmental issues, and the human condition. His love and appreciation of nature stems from his childhood growing up in the ‘70s in Souris, Manitoba, where he spent much of his time outdoors hanging around the banks of the Souris River. According to Sutter, “I feel a strong sense of freedom and humility when I spend time outdoors. I love watching and thinking about the things I see, and there’s a sense of peace, beauty and wonder that offers a welcome alternative to stress and worry.” This curiosity and love of nature also helped guide his academic and professional careers, leading him to a PhD in biology and his current role as Curator of Human Ecology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.
When asked how his position at RSM influences his music, Sutter says, “I’m sure it does. I get a lot of musical ideas around the things I focus on at work, including climate change, water concerns, social disparities, and other sustainability issues, but I always avoid heavy-handed commentary.” Instead, he simplifies what he observes to more personal, yet universal levels. He says, “I also don’t use my music to pass on scientific information. I’m more interested in reflecting on the world around me and expressing emotions.”
A lifelong musician from a musical family, Sutter first started tinkering with the piano at the age of four. Classically trained through Brandon University, he would go on to spend several years performing in blues bands and playing solo folk shows before taking a hiatus to focus on his career and raise a family. His first foray as a performing songwriter was in 2006, leading to his debut album All You Need in 2008, produced by WCMA award winner David j Taylor.
In 2010, Sutter released Seeds, a collaborative live album with Brett Dolter (B.D. Willoughby, Library Voices). As well, his song “Weight of the World” garnered national attention when it was selected as the official Saskatchewan song on David Suzuki’s Playlist for the Planet on CBC Radio3, joining the ranks of notable artists like Danny Michel, Dehli 2 Dublin, and Paper Lions. In 2011, Sutter struck while the iron was hot and released his second solo album Sweet Happiness, once again produced by David j Taylor.
With a growing catalogue of music, Sutter has spent the last few years touring, playing local shows with his band Rivertime, and writing a new batch of songs. The result is a stunning third solo album, Let the Dog Run. Produced by Mark Schmidt at Blue Door Studios and Northern Town Music, Sutter’s latest album is a folk-rock gem, with a welcome mix of blues, jazz, and piano balladry for good measure. This collection of songs is chock full of hope, optimism, and honesty that is sure to resonate with listeners.
The songs on Let the Dog Run showcase a gentle balance between worldly concerns and self-reflection. Sutter explains, “Most of the tunes reflect topics I’ve been thinking about and experiences I’ve been going through over the last three years. Some themes are big in a global sense, including the need for people in the Western world to find more sustainable ways of living. Others have to do with changes and transitions that have been happening in my career and family”
In “Big White Bird,” Sutter laments the “black gold” left behind from oil spills, leading to species like the whooping crane becoming endangered. Elsewhere, in “State of Shock” and “Tiny Devils” he expresses anger and frustration about endless wars, corruption and hostility around the world. Ultimately, he finds inner peace and hope for the future in tracks like “A Day Like This,” “Let the Dog Run” and “Promises.” It’s this sense of optimism that wins out and is sure to help Glenn Sutter gain more and more fans in the years ahead.
by JJ Elliott - September 2015