Much as these sorts of comparisons must make her seethe by now, Rachael Sage still evokes Tori Amos with her piano and Ani DiFranco with her voice (particularly her little breathy moments) on The Blistering Sun, her seventh full-length album. Though her sound hasn’t changed dramatically, however, her ability to put together compositions that make the most of that sound has increased exponentially. Remember when you heard Little Earthquakes and its blend of world-weary lyrical observation, musical innocence and biting wit knocked you off your feet? Well, The Blistering Sun doesn’t quite do that, but parts of it come close: “Featherwoman” is a perfectly plaintive ode to a unique sense of self, and “Paperplane” is a biting dedication to a less-than-supportive father underscored by lots of minor-key arpeggiation, but nothing even comes close to the resonance and medieval musical flair of the beautiful “93 Maidens”, telling the true WWII tale of a teen who’d rather poison herself than be taken prisoner by the invading Germans. It’s a stunning expression of reverent storytelling and a subtle homage to her Jewish heritage. Sage can sometimes get repetitive when she runs out of ideas, and her idiosyncracies sometimes border on too-cute, but anyone itching for some solid girl-and-her-piano music will seriously be missing out until they hear this.
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// Notes from the Road
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