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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Blue Parade CD Cover
Image © 1999 Sarah Slean  

Sarah Slean's first full length album, Blue Parade (Sarah Slean SSCD-002, 1999), follows her highly successful independently released EP, entitled Universe (Sarah Slean SSCD-1998, 1998), available since the latter half of 1998 on CD and on cassette for a year longer. The new album, also independently released, is self-written and sung with piano, wurlitzer, toy piano and rhodes also played by Sarah herself. It contains eleven tracks including heartfelt alternative rock tracks intermingled with sensitive ballads accompanied by light instrumentation. Compared by some to Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan, Slean's voice is sweeter and more emotional and her songs are musically more complex.Further light instrumentation is provided by Mark Mariash (drums, percussion andhorn arrangements), Drew Birston (bass), Maury Lafoy (bass), Kurt Swinghammer (guitars), Kevin Fox (cello), Todd Lumley (Hammond B3) and Erin Donovon (vibraphone). Strings are also arranged and conducted by by Sarah and as with thehorns are played by various session artists.

Reviews of Sarah Slean's live performances suggest tremendous stage presenceand she is continuing to venture outside of her native Canada to larger venues in the United States, including New York for example. Her chatty on-stage style has warmed many audiences and live performances, mailand internet sales have resulted in significant demand for her independently released CDs.

Styles on the new album vary from upbeat songs ("Playing Cards with Judas" and "High")through instrumentally exploratory songs ("My Invitation," "Narcolepsy Weed," "Eliot" and "Habit") to the tremendous ballads ("Blue Parade" and "Twin Moon"). The lovelymulti-tracked a capella "Awake Soon" is a true testament to Sarah's vocal talent. With excellent songwriting and inventive classically derived instrumentation, the album is a significant development over and (positive) departure from her earlier EP.

Sarah Slean is certainly a very promising up-and-coming independent female singer-songwriter. Clearly outside traditional pop culture, she is destinedto become widely appreciated in AOR circles. This debut full length album is worth further exploration and with complexity better understood with repeated listenings is a wonderful listen!

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