MP3 Sarah Sharp - Fourth Person
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12 MP3 Songs
POP: with Live-band Production, ROCK: Acoustic
REVIEW from LOGO Magazine - UK (4 1/2 Stars)
The wait for Texan songstress Sarah Sharp's first full-length album is finally over, and what a revelation it is. She and her band have gone for broke in a major way, with a richly orchestrated and dynamically produced album of enormous depth and substance. Recorded over a period of months in Dan Workman's legendary Sugar Hill Studio in Houston (Workman produced recent Destiny's Child and Beyoncé albums), then subsequently mastered at the Hit Factory, this is the sound of an artist who has found the right collaborators, in particular a musical genius by the name of Kevin Ryan. It's no surprise that when you try to get to his website, you end up somewhere called "Recording The Beatles", such is the quality of the analogue keyboard stylings and arrangements which he contributes, placing the songs in an entirely appropriate aural context. It's not unlike what the White Stripes have been aiming at with their recent recordings, though stylistically it's a million miles away. You feel that the achievement here is what Heather Nova was after when she recorded with Mercury Rev. I can pay no higher compliment than to say that Ryan can now be thought about in the same breath as Dave Fridman. If you haven't come across Sarah before, treat yourself to a listen to an American artist who is seemingly not scared to tread her own path. No watered-down alt-country here. Her palette covers everything from melancholy ballads such as "Time Capsule" to whimsical slices of life like "Coffee Shop Song" or the craziness of her show-stopping three-minute soap opera "Finally", all presented with total integrity in a voice which is little short of astonishing. And unusually for today, the overall atmosphere is almost entirely "up". This is an artist whose day has come. What's more, she'll be touring the UK later in the year. You'd be mad to miss it.
REVIEW from the Austin Chronicle - July 16
Sarah Sharp shatters unmistakable influences from Alanis Morrissette to Jewel, creating a protein shake of mid-1990s female-oriented pop/rock on her Fourth Person. Unlike some of her inspirations, however, Sharp's debut is light on the protein and heavy on the shake. What shakes is a blissful pulse, one in which songs about love-breaking ("Surrender") and love-making ("Time Capsule") coexist comfortably. Sharp's delivery, a cross between Tracy Bonham and Veruca Salt's Nina Gordon, has all of the raspy strength to match her subtle songwriting techniques. But much of the kudos belongs to producers Dan Workman and Kevin Ryan for taking otherwise routine compositions and arranging them to sound so much grander. "Run" could've been just another barroom ballad à la Sheryl Crow, but with the haunting additions of various keys and toys, it becomes a fanciful event with a killer hook. The same can be said for the album's best tracks, "Too Close" and "Can't We Just Love?," which feature staggering performances by the band and producers. Not to be outdone, Sharp shines on relative solo tracks, like the peaceful, Tori Amos-tinged "It's Too Late." Maintaining a one-woman Lilith Fair must be exhausting.
Not since Edie Brickell has Texas produced such an intelligent, sometimes playful, pop songstress. Sarah Sharp explodes onto the scene with simple, witty pop songs infused with slight touches of jazz. For fans of Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann or Edie Brickell....add Sarah Sharp to your list of favorites.
"The world of the songwriter is an ever changing terrain upon which the familiar is constantly rediscovered. Tales are woven during life's journey while picking up experience, impression, and inspiration as the raw materials for the next song."
Music often reflects the heart and soul of the voice behind it. It is a narrative to the life story of the songwriter. It is up to the storyteller to engage and delight us with unique descriptions of recognizable situations that inspire new thoughts and feelings. Sarah Sharp is just such a songwriter: a minstrel who arrives with songs of young adulthood and waking sensuality. Her world is not a dark place but one of positive affirmation, where life's inevitable sufferings lead to learning and empowerment.
At a young age, Sarah became involved in the arts. As a ballet dancer for seven years, the thrill of performing overtook her. Having grown up in a musically gifted family, her voice became her identity and music her destiny. She left Texas to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston where she earned a degree and was encouraged to pursue her musical dreams. She promptly decided to move to England. She packed up, returned to Texas, won a local vocal competition that gave her the money to by a one-way ticket to London, and at 21, Sarah left the United States with little more than a desire to sing.
One night in SoHo she stumbled across a blues bar on open mic night. Having never sung the blues, she remembered a Bonnie Raitt tune her professor used as an example of 12 bar blues. She took over like a true Texas blues singer winning over the crowd and before long she was performing all over London and getting paid. It was in London where she began to write songs and cultivate her performance.
Sarah returned to Austin, the capitol of Texas music. While developing her original material, she quickly garnered herself much critical praise with a weekly jazz gig on 6th Street. In 2002, she had recorded her debut EP Out of Nowhere. She went to meet an acquaintance of her father, producer Dan Workman, who had worked with ZZ Top for many years and had just completed work on the Destiny's Child album, Survivor, and Beyoncé's solo record, Dangerously In Love. While her intention was to get a recommendation for a mix engineer, their mutual admiration for each other's talent led Dan to take on the job himself. After the release of Out of Nowhere, she was concurrently voted one of Austin's Top Jazz vocalists while her original songs acquired a following on local radio.
Shortly thereafter Sarah and Dan began work on her first full-length record. Dan introduced Sarah to Kevin Ryan, and suggested that he complete the production team. Kevin's arrangements of Sarah's songs proved to be the final link in the chain of events leading to Sarah's new release: Fourth Person. Once the team was assembled, Sarah made the commitment to raise all of the capital to record and market the album, and within three months of that decision, had done just that.
Fourth Person is a tour de force of modern pop. The songs are well considered, and verbally playful: music for the thinking person that is generous with it's hooks, and blessedly devoid of the usual brooding insight that 'smart pop' uses as it's de facto point of view.
Smart. Sensitive. Soulful. Sarah.
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