dinsdag 17 april 2012

Empty houses. Sarah Bowman

The cover of Sarah Bowman's cd Empty houses is slightly mysterious. As if Mona Lisa's sister's staring at you through her reflection in a door's window. It intrigues me. Is it a real person? Sarah? Or a photograph from the time of my grandmother's youth? It may well be.

The music couldn't have come from those days, but it could have been made anywhere in my life, say from the time I've discovered my own music (and listening to completely different music than is offered on Empty houses in those days).

I ran into the album reading the review on Erwin Zijlemans "De krenten uit de pop" blog and decided to follow the link he provided. After listening to two songs I bought the album on the website of Sarah. (Here's the link.) The songs surprised me, as they were completely different from what I expected. This album has class, it's stately, for loss of a better word. Majestic is what pops up next. Her voice as well as the orchestration. Dark strings from a cello and light guitar strings blend beautifully together in a song like 'Give you reason'. Her voice is full with the ever slightest hint of hoarseness, giving it a distinct quality. I can imagine her growling as well as whispering ever so sweet in a convincing way. A voice to listen to all day.

She reminded me, strangely enough, most of Steve Waitt, a New York City songwriter. Also of Paul Simon without exotics, so his 70-ties songs. There is also a hint towards a good country pop song, but she keeps it well hidden in a track like 'New York rain'. The brake is always on on Empty houses, but almost released in this chorus; the most playful part of the album. Making an album is a serious business on Empty houses. On 'Yanked' she sounds very much like Grace Slick in her most intimate moments at the time of Jefferson Airplane, e.g. 'Triad' on 'Crown of creation'.

Sarah Bowman already has a full career behind her and I'm only finding out just now. To me it's completely new and I have the pleasure to let the songs on Empty houses come to me from a completely fresh angle, without any preconceptions. And this sits very well with me. Her songs force me to listen, suck me into her universe. This is no music for in the back ground. There it passes almost without being noticed. With earphones in, a song like 'The brothers of Furnace Hill' gives away it's full beauty. 'Salle Saint Cécile' tells the tale of the fate of a musical institution in Haiti after the earthquake. You can hear the pain in her voice singing this tale. There does not seem to be a note on this album that is not strictly necessary. Less is more and sounding great, as it's very well recorded.

Empty houses is not the sort of album I tend to listen to every day, but I've listened to this one quite regularly of late. So what about you?, asks,


P.S. Sarah Bowman is rond koninginnedag in het land. Op de link boven staan de data en plaatsen.

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