After bouncing back from a period of illness and writer's block in 2009, Susan Anders wrote and recorded Swimmer. These are not puppy-love songs for kids, but wise reports from mid-life, anchored by Susan's expressive voice. The songs vary in style while the topics remain deep: transcending a rocky childhood in the jazzy “Forgiveness”, grappling with job search burnout in the bouncy, horn-laced “Thirsty”, dealing with depression and recovery in “Get to You”, and the highs and lows of long-term relationships in “Astronauts” and the folk waltz “The Good Fight”. The album's highlights include "Love Beats Time", featuring dobro god Jerry Douglas, the haunting "I Can't Fix You", with Maura O'Connell singing harmony, "The Good Fight", co-written with Kelleigh Bannen, and the joyous "I Forgot I Was Strong", a soulful vocal collage.
Susan's personal notes on the different songs on Swimmer are here.
Susan recorded Swimmer in her husband Tom Manche’s west Nashville studio. Ironically, they lay down the last tracks just as the Nashville flood waters rose. The production is full of happy surprises that set off Susan’s acoustic guitar and keyboard. Van Morrison-like horns appear on the rootsy “In Another Lifetime”, while Jim Hoke’s dixieland clarinet and Roger Morris’s tack piano turn “Always a Beginner” into a gypsy cabaret song. The layered female vocals on “I Forgot I Was Strong”, backed only by bass and drums, hint at Manhattan Transfer and Sweet Honey on the Rock. Susan has sung back-up vocals and taught harmony workshops for years, but she lets other singers do the harmonizing on Swimmer. This adds to the organic production feel, reminiscent of classic singer-songwriter albums from the 1970s. Other musicians on Swimmer include Vince Santoro on drums, Dave Francis on bass, Dennis Wage on organ, Kirby Shelstad on marimba and percussion, Mark T. Jordan on accordion, and Rusty Russell on flugelhorn. Backing vocals are by Nashville singer-songwriters Dana Cooper, Pru Clearwater, Morgan Bracy, Ronnie Kimball, Vickie Carrico, Kathy Hussey, and Barbara Santoro. Tom added guitar and percussion and co-produced the album with Susan.