As the voice of Saint Etienne, Sarah Cracknell has given a distinctive tone to their many cool and sparse musical vignettes. It is going back a bit, but their ‘Too Young To Die : Singles 1990-1995’ is a great listen.
A follow up to ‘Lipslide’ from 1997, this new solo album features co-writing and many instruments played by Carwyn Ellis of Colorama. The opening track ‘On The Swings’ is a beauty, the spooky introduction creates for me an image of 4am on a damp London Street in 1965 even before the vocal breathes in to take it to another level. Sarah has an instantly recognisable voice, never seeming to try too hard she dominates the piece. The duet with Nicky Wire on the radio-friendly ‘Nothing Left To Talk About’ is the bittersweet ending of a relationship, short and sharp with slide guitar. ‘In The Dark’ is a smooth and velvety voice over waves of acoustic guitar and building strings.
And so the album flows and dreams on like a perfect summer evening. Folk-rock duo The Rails add layers of harmony to ‘Take The Silver’ and the cover of the song ‘The Mutineer’ goes into gentle folk territory. ‘Hearts Are For Breaking’ is pure up-tempo pop. ‘I Am Not Your Enemy’ has sinister guitar lines and is a bit different in texture to the rest, then the closing lullaby of ‘Favourite Chair’ showcases Sarah’s pure vocal.
This album is a grower, give it a spin through the summer and like me hope one day to see her in concert…