Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CD Album Reviews- Sarah Darling- Angels & Devils

The Review-
There is a certain amount of irony that a woman who played the role of a mannequin (in Big & Rich’s “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy”) can sing so emotionally and passionately. But Sarah Darling proves that she’s no vocal stiff on Angels & Devils, her sophomore release following Every Monday Morning. At least that's the case for half of the album.

There lies the paradox on Darling’s Angels & Devils. Physically, the release is made up of two CD’s- two short EP-length discs. Half of the release is acoustic-based and she truly sings heavenly like the angels. The other half of the album is done in modern country production. And while that might make it the more radio friendly side, the competition with the multiple instrumentation layers make it difficult to always hear Sarah at her finest. She’s forced to sing with more power- more oomph per se- and the result is that she is not allowed to be nearly as passionate and intimate with her vocals. That intimacy is what makes the recording on that half of the release so special.

Her beautiful voice should be the centerpiece of each of the songs. And on the acoustic side, it is. Her voice floats and flutters like the wind on a breeze. It can be quiet like a whisper and then fly up into falsetto- drowning in emotion along the way. She does powerhouse performances of a couple of covers of Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” as well as U2’s “With Or Without You” (which while placed on the modern country disc, has production that would fit more on the acoustic side.) It’s singer/songwriter performing at some of its finest.

The one huge exception to the more modern of the discs is the track “Bad Habit.” Backed by Vince Gill singing harmony, Darling does her best Lee Ann Womack impression on this modern sounding classic comparison of wanting a relationship that is similar to an addiction. It’s got great guitar work and makes one of our favorite tracks thus far into 2011. (As a side note, Darling will be making her Grand Ole Opry debut on the 26th of February and will have Gill at her side on this performance.)

Like Darling’s first album, Angels & Devils is a great example of a very strong talent and underrated vocalist finding her own sound and musical journey in recordings. This isn’t quite it, but I foresee a home run in her future.

The Stand-Out Tracks-
Bad Habit (with Vince Gill)
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
With Or Without You
I Found In You

The Verdict-
Three And A Half Stars Out Of Five

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