Sarah Darling: Dream Country

review darlng x1 cong

This charming album has enraptured us in the Review Corner this week. The sleeve is simple, with a celestial, dream-like air about it; the Bandcamp (or Pledgemusic, whatever) donors are presented in a star map, each supporter a small place in heaven. Imagine fluffy pink and unicorns, and you get a feel of the general air of sweetness. Not that it’s saccharine; far from it.

The opening couple of songs are pop country. Darling has a sweet (what else) voice and variously sounds like Madonna and Stevie Nicks. She proves she can rock with Tell That Devil, a country rocker whose trajectory can be guessed from the opening bars, but it is a joy nonetheless; it goes along at a similar gallop to Amy McDonald’s This Is The Life; drummer Evan Hutchings does some impressive work on the snare, the drum rudiments he learned by printing them from the Vic Firth website paying off a dividend.

After that it slows down with a moving cover of The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, which acts as pivot, with slower tracks afterwards. If anything the standard of the songs goes up: the slow, jazz blues of Montmartre is wonderful; the piano-led Halley’s Comet and closer Stargazer are also excellent but the standout is You Take Me All the Way, a late night, nightclub blues song that’s more jazz than country, Darling’s sultry vocals crooning out a sensual but humorous love song: “Driving only gets me so far / Flying only gets me so high / I can even get to Californian on a train / But you take me all the way” (how far that is she doesn’t say but the next two lines are: “Kissing only makes me want more / Sex is just a roll on the floor”, so possibly a long way). There’s a slow trad-jazz trumpet solo in the middle. Absolutely wonderful.

Dream on:

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