This is one for all those out there who cringe when they hear the phrase singer-songwriter. Sarah Sharp’s debut album, produced by Dan Workman (ZZ Top, Destiny’s Child and Beyonce), avoids over the top introspection in favour of sharp hooks and wordplay.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Sharp, a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston, first took to performing when in London. One night, so the story goes, she was enticed to sing at an open mic session in a blues bar in Soho. She did a Bonnie Raitt song, and hasn’t looked back since.
It’s hard to pin down the music, which in itself has to be a good thing. It’s definitely radio friendly, but that doesn’t mean bland. Her voice remains at the centre of each song, with traces of both blues and country, The full band pieces tend towards sunny, intelligent pop, but for my money she’s at her best on the more stripped back numbers such as Time Capsule, or It’s too late, which has definite traces of the better side of Tori Amos.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though. At times, particularly on Finally, the clever wordplay verges on forced humour, and ends up sounding like a above average version of Shania Twain, which is not something the world needs (though undoubtedly there’ll be plenty of DJs worldwide happy to force it upon us given the right circumstances).
So, all in all, a terrifically accomplished and confident debut from Sarah Sharp. The songwriting, production and performance is all imbued with a determination and talent that suggests we’ll be hearing lots more from this new voice.