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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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Sarah Hallman CD Cover
Image © Busted Flat Records 2006

Sarah Hallman
Image © Nick Burka 2007


(09 September 2007) Ottawa-based indie artist Sarah Hallman has released her self-titled sophomoric album that has evocative, passionate and down-to-earth melodies. This singer/songwriter's music has been likened to artists such as Andrew Bird, Cat Power and Dave Matthews Band and her vocals are reminiscent of Aimee Mann and Kathleen Edwards. Sarah has an introspective approach to this collection of twelve songs that reaches new depths. Her current album is a followup to her 2001 release of The Hollowings which was a grouping of some of her early songs.

Sarah Hallman was recorded with Dave Draves in Ottawa's Little Bullhorn Studios, and features Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara (drums) and Wooden Stars’ Mike Feurstack (lapsteel), Clark’s John Tielli (backvoice), Adam Fogo (bass) and Brian Simms (lead guitar), along with well-known singer-song writer Shannon Lyon (Busted Flat). The CD beautifully combines guitar and piano to lay the foundation for the heartfelt and poignant ballad infused melodies. The songs are catchy and bittersweet. Sarah said, "The idea was to create a documentation of that creative time of my life that I could share with friends. I used to be really reticent about sharing my songs with other people, but time is slowly changing that as I'm taking my time to get adjusted to change."

"In making the new record I've been getting to know the sounds I like, taking my time to carry through on ideas, no matter how they may turn out. And the more involved I got with making it, the more I knew I would regret not putting it out." Her music evokes an emotional vulnerability that has a simplicity and clarity. Sarah's vocals have an introverted quality although she does show lovely surges in her lyrics and melodies.

Her opening track, "Snowballin'," is catchy and upbeat. Sarah's vocals exude a musical confidence with her bittersweet lyrics. She is a refined storyteller and her songs are heartfelt. The mellow tones in "Take A Flight" highlight a range of human emotions with a simple style. Her emotive approach continues with the sensitive "Shovel." There is an effortless and straightforward manner to her songs combined with her languid vocals.

"Longshot" has a folky and melancholic feel to the melody. In the song, she talks about a "slow ride" that's worth waiting for. The lyrics are delivered in an easygoing, almost laid-back manner that clearly illustrates her moody style. The sorrowful "Show" relects on themes of self-discovery and creates a beautiful tapestry of soulful tones. "The Loving" continues in the same vein and discusses love themes. There is a darkness to some of these songs, enhanced by the sweet and simple tones.

The beat picks up with "Forget You." She carefully details a story about her love and conflicting emotions. "I Will Not Sing" has a strong melody and dynamic lyrics that combined with Sarah's touching vocals create an aura of artistic soul. The intimacy continues with the heartfelt "When It All Comes Down." These melodic monologues hone in on what each one of us has felt at one point or another in life. Sarah said, "The unifying source of both those things, fighting and dancing, is that they come from passion. I think it's about relationship mood swings, about trying to force change from arguments and antagonizing to laughing and dancing, about the ways you get through hard feelings with a loved one."

"Shed" displays her vulnerabilities with its emotional and touching tune. There is a wide range of emotions that are expressed throughout her songs, and "The Sadness" illustrates the poignancy well. Her final track, "Entangle," lays bare the raw emotions as she documents her tale.

Sarah Hallman is a revealing collection of songs that evoke a range of feelings. She is an expert storyteller with a languid vocal style that comes across in a very direct manner. Her efforts are rewarded with refreshing melodies and moving musical conversations. She draws the listener with her compelling melancholic stories that have a simplistic beauty.--Audrey Elliot in New York

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