On her sophomore full length, Sarah Mary Chadwick sounds intense, foreboding, and distant. Her haunting vocals are supported by low, lush orchestrations that carry her songs to make them classics. Or at least, that’s what the title 9 Classic Tracks suggests, and we wouldn’t dare to differ. On a side note: wow, that cover art, uhm. Intense.
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- 9 Classic Tracks by Sarah Mary Chadwick
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Right, I have a decision to make. To talk about the sleeve art to not talk about the sleeve art. Well it doesn’t improve the record let’s say but thankfully this is a record which doesn’t need much improving.
Right from the get go what you hear is a distinctive new voice doing something that is both easy to compare to artists who have come before but manages to be totally original. Sarah Mary Chadwick writes ethereal, songs from the heart that use cheap synths and drum machines behind her crackly voice. Straight off the bat it’s a brave album, we’ve mentioned the sleeve art already and calling it ‘9 Classic Tracks’ suggests either confidence or a wry humour at play but opener ‘Ask Walt’ disarms with it’s honesty and nakedness. ‘Am I Worth It?' uses slo-mo synth and drums as it’s bedrock but it’s the vocal that makes this truly special It’s something like an amalgamation of Cat Power and the early grainy Zola Jesus. The echoed vocals on ‘I’m God I’m Fate’ remind me of early 4AD types such as Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil.
Phil has just shouted the words Sinead O’ Connor and for once he’s not being a fucking idiot, there’s something of the ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ in all these songs. It does get a tad dirgy and samey at times particularly towards the end of Side but ‘I’m Back Where I Was’ is truly exceptional - I suspect Ms Chadwick has had some horror stuff going on in her life before recording this album and has poured her woes into the narrative. She has a great voice, it crackles and swoops and wonderfully has a lovely New Zealand lilt and at times reminds me of Christina Carter.
If everyone that buys Florence and the Machine records went out and bought this then the world would be a better but more miserable place. I can see this record appealing to lots of people and 15% of the time I’m not wrong about my hunches so get in on the ground floor if you want to be sad.
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