Friday, June 24, 2011

Sarah Darling – Angels & Devils

Sarah Darling – Angels & Devils (CD Review)



Disc 1
1. Thank You 2. Something To Do With Your Hands 3. The Boy Never Stays 4. Toxic
5. Bad Habit 6. Angels & Devils 7. With Or Without You
Disc 2
1. Stop The Bleeding 2. Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word
3. Something To Do With Your Hands [A Capella] 4. Waiting On You 5. I Found In You

Label - Black River Entertainment LLC
UPC - 851491003014
Catalog # - BRE20113
Release - Feb 15, 2011
Time- 46:02
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ANGELS & DEVILS is the sophomore release for the 28-year old beauty and Nashville based singer songwriter who hails from Des Moines, Iowa. This 12-track Double-Disc package shows a level of growth from her first album wish focussed on the aspects of lost love. She has broadened her horizons and the songs are more edgy and have more universal appeal. She calls it the “Sarah Darling 2.0 record”. Jimmy Nichols produces the album and Sarah contributes on 10 of the songs, the other 2 being well-known covers. Disc One has 7 full band, full on studio cuts whereas Disc Two is a striped back acoustic offering which gives you a flavour of what you might hear if you had casually walked in on an imitate session. As a song writer who moved to Music City like so many she would take her guitar and play the club scene and open-mic nights. For 3 years she honed her craft looking for a first break.

The sweet country/pop love song ‘Thank you’ has a light as feather beginning with steel (Paul Franklin) and acoustic guitar (Biff Watson) audible. Then it cuts to the chase as the pace quickens with its very modern contemporary production as crunchy electric guitars (Jerry McPherson, Tom Bukovac) and drums (Shawn Fichter) enter the fray. It’s a beautiful world and the heart beats fast when the girl confesses she’s blessed for that once in a lifetime love that’s hit her like a lightning bolt.

Something To Do With Your Hands’ written with Jason Deere (SHedaisy, LeAnn Rimes, Stealing Angels) with it’s finger snaps is a fun, breezy acoustic number. A grateful girl waits for her hard working guy to return, and what a welcome awaits him as Sarah sings: Follow the candles when you walk through the door / Just drop your coat and keys on the floor / Cuz I've been cooking up something so fine / And I just might be wearing something you like. In the video professional wrestler A.J. Stiles plays the cameo role.

The Boy Never Stays‘ written with Josh Osborne and Brandy Clark who co-wrote ‘Cry’ & ‘The Day She Got Divorced’ for Reba McEntire recalls a woman’s thoughts as a love struck teenager. He’s the reason she loves the smell of “Polo and Peppermint” and remembers summer days and matinee’s and lips that taught her how to kiss x. They meet occasionally in her dreams: The boy never stays, and the love never goes

The mid-tempo upbeat ‘Toxic’ is written with her frequent co-writer, Adam Shoenfeld who assists on the album as a co-producer. In this case it would be foolish to return to a relationship that is innately dangerous.

The softly ‘Bad Habit’ gentle flows and with guest Vince Gill singing harmony along with the sensitive accompaniment it makes for delightful musical enjoyment. He also introduced her on stage to make her Grand Old Opry debut when they sang it together on February 26th. This love song is written from the girl’s perspective. She will be there for her guy but she wants his undivided attention – “So light me up
and burn me down
” she sings.

Opposites attract on the gripping ‘Angels & Devils’ - “Why do the good girls always go for the bad boys”. Apparently Sarah did! “Your heart is an involuntary muscle” she says, relating a 7-year back and forth love affair, but it has provided her with a wealth of song material!

Darling offers a slower cover version of the U2 classic ‘With Or Without You’ . Her vocal shines when the production is light of touch but at times as the track builds momentum the raw emotion is in danger of being drowned out when forced to compete.

As we move onto Disc 2 ‘Stop The Bleeding’ with just a piano accompaniment (Jimmy Nichols) showcases Sarah’s vocal control to perfection. Written with Shaunna Bolton and Joe Perreault the intimacy is quite wonderful. It was written a few years ago and earned her a record deal with Black River. As time passes, she toils with heartache and a temptation not to reach out to someone she should never have believed in. The song reaches into you heart with both hands and squeezes hard.

She again sings like an angel on Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s melancholic ‘Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word’ as a steel gentle weeps (Paul Franklin). Producer Jimmy Nichols invents all the sounds on the A Capella version of ‘Something With Your Hands’, but it seems a bit out of place with this tempo.

With piano and cello (Jonathan Yudkin) heartache is revisited once more on ‘Waiting On You’ and is another superb composition. The tables are turned where once she pushed a lover away she is now anxious to win his heart back if he believes she’s changed: And that now I see your arms as my escape, Let me trade your ticket on a rollercoaster, For a ride on a carousel

The delicate and effecting ’I Found You’ is a gorgeous orchestral piece and Sarah puts in a stellar vocal performance as Jimmy Nichols plays a delicate piano and adds a vocal.

Sarah is most certainly one of the darlings of country music’s younger generation. The album is proof that she can, at the flick of a switch, adjust from a commercial country-pop to a more sophisticated sound. I look forward to Sarah Darling 3.0


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