It’s so rare that an artist will release a consistent slew of amazing albums. Often times, they’ll put out a great first and second album, then get experimental and watch their fame ebb as quickly as it rose. Sarah Slean is a rare exception to this rule. Since Night Bugs, her first “big” album, Slean released Day One in 2004, and in 2008 she came out with the incredibly beautiful The Baroness. Since then, she released a couple of B-sides (The Baroness Redecorates, Beauty Lives), and now Slean is back with Land & Sea, her most musically daring album to date.

Slean is known for both her upbeat melodies which make you want to dance and sing along, and also for her toned-down, beautiful ballads that can bring tears to your eyes. Her new album incorporates these two contrasting genres perfectly. Land, part one of the double-disc incorporates more of a rock/pop element similar to what you might hear on Day One. The moment you press play and hear the first few bars of “Life,” right away you know Land will exceed all expectations. The next few tracks, “The Day We Saved the World” and the first single “Set it Free” both encompass Slean’s incredible songwriting ability. All the way through, with tracks like “Everybody’s on TV,” “New Pair of Eyes” and “Girls Hating Girls,” Land is full of songs you will want to listen to again and again. The final track, “Society Song” closes Land on a high note with Sarah on the piano and her band backing her up with hand claps and a sing-along in the chorus.

And then there’s Sea.

This is where Slean really shines. Sea’s beautiful string arrangements are a complete contrast to anything you’ll hear on Land. The way the lyrics, melodies and harmonies work together in “Cosmic Ballet,” the first track off Sea, solidifies Slean as a master of composition. But it doesn’t end there. With tracks like “The Devil and the Dove,” “Attention Archers” and “You’re not Alone,” combined with a couple of re-arranged tracks off Beauty Lives, Sea is a breathtaking incubus of musical grace and elegance.

It’s incredibly hard to compare Sarah Slean to any other artist. Some might say her sound combines some elements of Sarah McLachlan, Emm Gryner, Chantal Kreviazuk, Tori Amos and Feist, but even then, Slean’s music is in a category of its own.

Like its title suggests, Land & Sea is a living, breathing element, contradictory and harmonious all at once. Slean has a true talent at bringing words alive and painting images inside the mind, and this talent shines through more than ever on this latest album. Somehow, every album Sarah Slean records is greater and grander than the last, and Land & Sea is no exception. Whatever your musical taste though, Land & Sea does not disappoint. It is a true collection of the simplistic to the complex, a record you will want to listen to over and over again. 9/10

Trial Tracks:

“Life” and “Cosmic Ballet.”

By Owen Nagels

You can follow Owen on Twitter @owennagels.

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About Owen Nagels

As a citizen of the planet, Owen has a passion for people, human rights, the environment and travelling the world. His journey has led him through Europe, Central America and Southeast Asia, as well as several places around Canada and the US. Although he loves print media, he is finishing up his undergrad in Broadcast Journalism at Concordia University, and would like to go on to work for shows like The Passionate Eye, The Fifth Estate or Doc Zone, and maybe even (fingers crossed!) The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. Owen hopes to make a difference in people’s lives by travelling the globe, raising awareness about issues like poverty, environmental degradation and political corruption.

4 responses »

  1. Wil says:

    Great review. Properly thought out and well written. I enjoyed reading it!

  2. shawnpt says:

    Hi Montreal! Greetings from Vancouver. Excited about your “new” blog and look forward to reading. Nice review of Sarah’s new album.

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