Sara Radle is a serial band monogamist. She’s jumped from one band to the next since 1996, taking time out periodically to write and record her own solo albums. She managed to convince Matt Sharp in 2005 to reboot the Rentals, only to leave the band less than three years later. Same Sun Shines is Radle’s fifth solo record, and this Nina Gordon-soundalike hits all the necessities to make an interesting Indie record. Sad and brooding with impossibly soft and serene vocals singing heartbreaking lyrics meant to pull at your heartstrings. The refrain of the opening number “Last” does just that when she sings: “We know it’s never gonna last.”
Radle clearly takes her cues from the alterna-girls of the late 90s—spunky like Veruca Salt, cutesy and seductive like Juliana Hatfield, and occasionally catchy like the tunes by ex-Belly lead vocalist Tanya Donelly. Fortunately for Radle, she understands her inspirations better than most current Indie female singer/songwriters. She knows when to curtail the weird and quirky guitar solos just enough so they don’t tread into pretentious territory, and remain fun and interesting. She knows how to write her lyrics in a way that complements her often times frail and mousy voice. However, this doesn’t discount the times when her “diary entry” lyrics are just too ridiculous and self-indulgent to ignore, as is the case in “Still Here”, an overwrought song in which she sings about contemplating suicide, “I made sure my father would take care of my cat / I made sure my sister had the info for my accounts / I made sure my husband would find me first / If he’d ever get home from work.” The silliness of the lyrics undercuts the severity and impact of the seriousness of the subject matter.
Although Radle does her best to play to her strengths, there remains a kind of unmemorable quality to Same Sun Shines. The same quality that so many Indie artists dismiss, thinking that if they simply stay the course, and “stay true” to who they are, that they’ll make a lasting impression—an attitude that often times forgets just how saturated the Indie music market is. However, five albums in, Radle is learning and steadily progressing to the point where she probably will make a lasting impression on listeners someday. Hopefully, for her, it’s sooner than later.
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