Vocals that has significant characteristics in them can be a problem for me. I often don’t see it as an authentic output of the singer’s emotion, and I feel sorry for the special effort put in quickly finding the true voice of the singer, rather then letting him release an album after an album and get to it naturally.
Joanna Newsom‘s voice is something that I usually have very hard times with. I do appreciate her as a musician, but listening to her records can drive me nuts (didn’t hear her last one, I heard it’s different). Jim James‘ voice in It Still Moves, maybe the most reverb-soaked album of all the Louisville groups ever released an album, was a bit hard for me at first. That’s why I was very suspicious toward In Black Robes by Sarah June, that was sent to me by the wonderful Silber Records .
Sarah June wanted to be a cowboy, so she says in Cowboy, but something may have gone wrong there, as she turned out to be a singer. But the Townes Van Zandt-ian melancholy stayed there, and also the feeling of something missing.
The cowboy issue is a motive I kept thinking of throughout the album. How could you be a cowboy? Your voice is so fragile and delicate, and you’re not exactly rock’n’roll. Indeed, you are powerful, but you’re obviously classically trained or had some experience in jazz.
But if Cowboy means doing your thing, and be free with your art and emotions – Sarah takes it all, she is the winner. A true Cowboy.
The lyrics in the album pictures images of an urban life, of something that was and will not be again. Maybe it’s youth, maybe it’s you, Sarah. These images fits perfectly with the choice of sound in the album. She recorded everything in her bedroom, and maintained a very close and intimate feeling.
It may be a little difficult throughout the end of the album, as the sound doesn’t change and so is the dynamics, but if you put that aside, and just hand yourself to Sarah’s fragile voice and fantastic guitar feel, you might find out that Black Robes is rather a brave statement as a debut from a young musician. And what this world needs today – is brave people.
…and a last minute addition to this post, I see that the wonderful Moodring band had released a live recording and it’s available for a free download at Archive.org. Moodring is another release by Silber and it’s a terrific off-Rollerball project.
Buy : Silber Records