Sarah Blasko - As Day Follows Night
Review by Jack Foley
AUSTRALIAN artist Sarah Blasko is a huge hit in her own country, where her popularity enabled her to perform at the closing ceremony of Sydney’s Commonwealth Games.
Thus far, UK audiences probably haven’t heard that much of her… but that’s about to change – and deservedly so.
The pop star boasts a fiercely independent spirit, populates her songs with clever references, has a voice to savour and a sensibility that’s not that far removed from the likes of trendy European artists such as Lykke Li.
With her third album, As Day Follows Night, she has sought to make a classic pop album filled with pure, emotional songs played on acoustic instruments.
During its production, however, and while she was also composing the score for the Bell Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet it evolved – thereby including a vast array of instruments (from piano, double bass and jazz drums to strings) as well as a number of cinematic influences (from Henry Mancini to Ennio Morricone).
The result is, by turns, enchanting and beguiling and a real treat in places.
Buoyed by Blasko’s immaculate voice, the album flits between breezy pop classics, to more cinematically rich ballads… right through to the type of quirky pop you might more commonly associate with US TV slots.
Highlights come in the form of tracks such as All I Want, which incorporates a deliberate Morricone vibe (circa Spaghetti westerns), thereby mixing a catchy chorus with some superb string arrangements that really do evoke widescreen vistas.
In contrast, the thumping piano chords and whirring sound effects on Hold On My Heart make for an offbeat, yet totally endearing, pop ditty that’s more Regina Spektor than anything.
And We Won’t Run is just a delicious pop offering that drops a snazzy bassline groove, before adding some superb lyrics into the mix and a drop-dead gorgeous chorus. It’s a former single and one of our past records of the week!
Blasko’s voice is given full spotlight on the stripped back and intimate Is My Baby Yours?, while there’s a distinctly Bonobo-ish vibe surrounding the background electronics (all Eastern string movements and jazzy bass) on the moody Sleeper Awake.
The distinct use of piano to create a striking percussion comes back on the equally notable No Turning Back, which is a real footstomper, while there’s an Eastern European sensibility surrounding the seductive instrumentation on Lost & Defeated – both of which find Blasko in more forceful mode vocally.
The chiming, upbeat pop of Over & Over, meanwhile, carries a self consciously Talking Heads vibe and is another firm favourite and instant classic.
With I Never Knew and Night & Day rounding off the album in similar quality, this is a rich, diverse and frequently rewarding listen that marks Blasko out as a major talent. We’re glad she’s finally decided to introduce herself to UK listeners!
Download picks: All I Want, Hold On My Heart, We Won’t Run, Sleeper Awake, Lost & Defeated, I Never Knew, Over & Over