Some of the best
Sarah Walk burst onto the scene with her stunning debut ‘Little Black Book’ in 2017. It was one of my favourite albums of the year so I was very intrigued as to how the piano-based alt-rocker would continue with her follow up ‘Another Me’. This time around, Sarah is in a more reflective mood. Substituting louder guitars for softer synths and lots of softer effects, this album is an emotional rollercoaster.
‘Another Me’ is an album that really shines as an emotional whirlpool. The title track speaks of that tipping point between choosing to move towards a better version of yourself after describing how her current version of herself is lacking, or full of traits she does not want. If you view the album through this lens, many of the other songs make sense as they form points of journey towards getting there.
‘Nobody Knows’ laments ‘what if it never comes’ around a circular stuttering beat and quick acoustic guitar as if you are spiralling into self doubt. The rousing anthem in waiting ‘What Do I Want’ literally explains the moment of crossroads and deciding what direction you want to spear off into. What I love about this is that even the song is produced in a way that feels like its stretching out its hand for the first time towards something it wants. The song has a euphoric chord progression but its placed on uneasy timid production so it sounds like a re-birthing. It is subtle and clever production and that reflective and thoughtful tone is present throughout the album. You hear it from the rewinding vocals on the opening track ‘Unravel’ that has more in common with an experimental Sarah McLachlan that a rock piece.
This nuance in production also lends itself towards tense moments of drama. ‘The Key’ is cinematic as spasms of electric guitar explode over sleek and sensual bass, organ and percussion sections. It is here where a secondary penny dropped for me, which is that ‘Another Me’ is also about identity and reclaiming your own identity. Whilst this may be about Sarah Walk coming out, a lot of the themes can be overlaid onto other reclaimations too. Feelings of not being included or feeling yourself permeate ‘The Outside’ as thick and dense strings and hammering drums smack against a clunky piano/toy piano crossover noise.
From there the album moves into a more defiant and confident as ‘Take Me As I Am’ allows Sarah Walk to proudly and brightly stand tall as herself. It is a beautiful track and I can also identify parts of myself within it too. What Sarah then does is take things a step further with ‘Flowers Grow’. This gorgeous ballad explains ‘I don’t know where you end and where I begin’ and she is speaking to her other version of herself. What she previously felt uncomfortable with at the start of the album is now something that she acknowledges. There is a calm reflection here that realises all that pain, hurt, anguish and confusion forms who you are today and you carry it along with you. It may not be your most immediate traits but those seeds still bloom within. The album closes with a quintessential Sarah Walk ballad which after two albums already feels like a staple required for every release.
‘Another Me’ wasn’t the aggressive and defiant album I had expected, especially when there was the provocative ‘CTRL’ single between the albums. This is a sombre but deeply cathartic experience that touched a deep root within me. As someone who doesn’t feel confident merging together different elements of my own self, sexuality and expression, every song spoke to me on a deeply personal level. The album itself is like a smooth snuggle of honey trickling down your ear and massaging your brain. It tells you it will get better but that pain will be part of the healing process. Sarah Walk pulls punches but she also knows how to make meaty resolutions and that is why this album, both in its music and narrative, is an absolute triumph.
Recommended track: Nobody Knows
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