Sarah Fard is a Boston-based music educator and adjunct professor at the Longy School of Music who writes and records her music as Savoir Faire. Her latest release, the three-song EP Think Twice, goes a long way in demonstrating her penchant for combining topical lyrics with deeply felt, retro-themed jazz and pop. With such a short run time, Think Twice packs a surprising punch, as both the music and lyrics are deeply felt and rise high above the surface-level pleasures of contemporary pop.
The opening track, “Sweet” (originally released as a standalone single in January), combines the twin influences of Nina Simone and Fiona Apple. Fard’s warm guitar tone, including a fantastic jazz-leaning solo, is the perfect accompaniment to her rich, multifaceted vocals, which zigzag between purring vibrato and full-throated belting. Accompanied by Andrew Moreau on bass and Dave Brophy on drums, Fard rejects the term “sweet”, which carries with it undertones of “complacent” and “people-pleasing”. The lyrics bear that out with skillful ease and style: “I’m like an inside-out cactus / My misanthrope’s had practice / But you that the fact is / I’m exoskeleton within.”
“Alias”, previously released in March, continues in the “alt-rock meets jazz-noir” vein, with reverb-drenched guitar work moving between the waltz tempo of the verses and the heavier chorus arrangement, as the lyrics address the subject of implicit bias. “It’s not a face you think you’re wearing,” Fard sings. “The identity you think is you / You see, they fed you a backstory / That you think, you think tasted true.”
The title track began as a rumination on current events in early 2020, as tensions between the US and Iran were brewing. Fard is half first-generation Iranian American and added in the press release that “there is a lot of beauty in Persian culture, but it is so often overshadowed by the ugly actions of people in power. I wondered if more people would suffer because of these actions.” The song – which underwent subsequent drafts that were inspired by the COVID-19 response, mass shootings, and the war in Ukraine, covers the overarching theme of the EP’s other two songs: think twice, About implicit bias, perceptions based on gender, and harsh decisions based on global calamity.
It’s heavy stuff, but Fard is adept at combining these issues with music that sounds effortlessly timeless. “Think Twice” incorporates more jazz-cabaret stylings but with an urgent undercurrent, thanks to the percussive backing that kicks into gear in the second verse. “Well, this is not a feel-good song,” she warns. “So process this and move along.”
As Savoir Faire, Sarah Fard is a profoundly talented, complex, and engaging artist. She provides the best possible artistic combination and one that seems increasingly rare: timely subjects with timeless style.