The new album from Sarah Winters highlights her signature heartbreaking lyrics and intimate vocals. It's set to release April 9th at the Acadia Cafe, and features her with a band: Kristopher Schoen on drums and Baylen Wagner on cello. The album, titled "Smallest Bones," is an assortment of love songs: falling in love songs, falling out of love songs, being in love songs, and wishing you were no longer in love songs.
Sarah's voice is one that often catches people off guard. She's not afraid to use her full range, and there's a weakness in her voice that lends itself well to the heartbroken lyrics she's singing. Sarah is venturesome enough to go to an awkward place vocally, whether it's holding a note a little too long or using unusual phrasing. The way she displaces syllables is sometimes Tori Amos-like, and she also has a vocal flip like Tori's, showing a distinct difference between upper and lower registers. On "Smallest Bones", the vocals are immediate and exposed, having a sound similar to St. Vincent or Rachael Yamagata albums. It's as if she's singing in your ear. Every single vowel, consonant, inhale, exhale, and spit movement is heard.
The lyrics Sarah pens are often true stories from relationships past, like opening your diary and hearing it sung back. They are painfully honest and painfully intimate. Sarah plays the piano in a very deliberate patterned style, similar to Kate Bush or Regina Spektor. This provides the perfect backdrop for lyrics and vocal melodies, which are the focal point of the songs.
On cello, Baylen commands a massive range of both bowed and plucked sounds, acting as bass, guitar, and backup vocalist all at once. In fact, many times his cello becomes like a human voice, harmonizing with the vocal melodies or mimicking their movement. Album-wise, the cello parts are thick and layered. There are rarely less than two going on at any one time.
The album is very sonically inspired by The National, and Kristopher's drums are a big part of that. Even when placed far in the background, his drums still drive the song. He uses plenty of creative auxilary percussion, layering various cymbal crashes with bells, tambourine, and shakers. At moments on the album, his beats sound like they could have been sampled from a hip hop song.
As a performer, Sarah is shy and soft spoken. She makes up for this with heartfelt commentary and a sweet disposition. It's refreshing that the band as a whole is unconcerned with their image and more concerned with the music they came to play. This is obvious by the passion in their playing and the way they've embraced their little quirks. In fact, they make kind of an odd trio: Kristopher often in plaid and black thick rimmed glasses, Sarah in some sort of ladylike dress and heels, and Baylen in a t-shirt and jeans. As soon as they begin, the audience immediately grows quiet. The songs have a calming energy backed by high emotion. The three members often share an inside joke, smiling at each other between songs.
released 09 April 2010
All Songs written by Sarah Winters
Produced by Josiah Kosier
Recorded at the McNally Smith College of Music
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