It’s been far too long since Sarah’s music has featured on the site, a between Addicted and new release, Clarity, much has changed. And if the previous track was built around pulsing, dancefloor energy, and addictive beats, Clarity runs along more subtle and soulful lines. A gorgeous, measured and understated piano-led ballad, one whose minimal instrumentation and confident use of space put the vocals front and centre.
And if much has changed regarding the nature of the song being offered this time out, one thing hasn’t. Sarah’s vocals. I’ve always wondered if she has a background of vocal training as the clarity (pun intended) and diction on display here is the sort of level of performance and professionalism that is normally found in musical theatre. And whilst that might not be the coolest reference for a neo-soul/pop singer, I would defy any competitor for the pop crown to get anywhere near the poise and polish of this song.
But, of course, a singer does not a song make, and it is the gentle sounds that are layered and cocooned around her voice that make this all even more special. Whilst there is not much going on, for want of a better phrase, it is just the right “not much.” Piano lines act as a delicate platform, a gossamer counterpoint to the vocals dancing deftly above and the distant sound of strings merely colours the spaces between with subtle sonic hues, wandering between the half-heard and the heartfelt.
It is the spaces that add so much. It is there that you hear other music formed incidentally, accidentally, music that is more than the sum of its parts. It is such spaces as one piano note drifts off and another is ushered in, in the pauses for breath between one vocal line and the next, that atmospheres and anticipations are allowed to pool and percolate, creating something that is both parts of the song and yet beyond it, behind it, below it, at the same time.
So, it’s pop, it’s soul (or neo-soul depending on your definition) it’s delicate and dexterous, spacious and sparing, gracefully and gorgeous, not the usual pop fare for sure but a reminder of what pop can be if it tried a bit harded, a benchmark for others to aim for if they feel brave enough.
This is a different Sarah from the one I had under the pen last time around but it shows that she is every bit as versatile and creative with such a reserved sound as she is with more obvious, beat-driven tracks. It just makes you wonder what she will come up with next!