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Sarah Walk – “Little Black Book” Review

Enter a new master of the piano rock genre
Sarah Walk
Sarah walk

The long-awaited debut album from Sarah Walk is finally out on all formats today and I’m pleased to say it’s a stonker. The dual personality piano based singer songwriter’s album showcases her at her angry best, and her reflective melancholy best too.

The album starts angry. The title track is a brooding explosion and retorts waiting to blow and when they do it’s a satisfying mess. Sarah’s piano smashes pointed chords that are heavily layered with bass, guitar and then given a percussive back bone. Walk’s voice has tones of Fiona Apple without sounding like her – it’s more about the mature female husk and self-assurance and awareness. Everything has a confident stride which reminds me also of Vanessa Carlton at her best, but far more rockier. This pushes forward to “Bored to Death” which is a wonderful clusterbang of guitars, piano and spitting of words that Amanda Palmer would be proud of. Lead single “Wake Me Up” showcases everything the album has with its eerie brooding verses and explosive choruses. Sarah can also write a powerful bridge and the choice of anthem between these three tracks, and the equally angst ridden “I Can’t Slow Down” completes the angry tracks on the album. I’m surprised there wasn’t more – she can make them to perfection.

Instead, much of the album is spent in a quieter mood. Heart aching ballads like “Maybe Someday” and “Still Frames” are classics in waiting. Switching tones, Sarah can still inject so much emotion in her softer side – and she does enjoy putting in slow builds to choruses or bridges. It makes tracks feel cinematic and like they have a directional flow. “Time” is a great example of this as the soft ballad of piano and voice becomes a militant barrage of tom drums and strings for a grande finale that would move you to tears.

The closing third of the album is more mid tempo. “The Remains” and “Let Me Try” work as sister songs that play off each other. Each track is suitably catchy, introspective – with the later working towards a heady climax of sound. That let’s the sweet ballad “Prettiest Song” twinkle and dance as a space of comfort and warmth in an album that often spends time lyrically in the grey. Much of the words convey confusion and feel pulled about in all of the places but here things feel simple and true. “June” and “Keep On Dreaming” then build on each other from there to the cinematic climax that’s orgasmic and euphoric. It’s a really well put together track list that makes the album feel like a roller-coaster of emotions that ends on a euphoric high.

Sleeper hit album of the year? Got it in one! Sarah Walk does not disappoint at all with a carefully nurtured album that’s packed with songs you’ll have etched in your memory for years to come – and an album that works just as well whole as it does as 12 songs.

Recommended Track : Wake Me Up

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