Sunday, 6 September 2009

One-Off Sunday Spotlight: Sarah Slean

First of all, I'd like to wish everyone a happy September! Let's hope the weather continues to be sunny and fall stays far away until at least October.
Second of all... you may have guessed, by the revised title, that I am (gasp!) late for the Saturday Spotlight. This weekend hasn't exactly been the most pleasant, though, so I hope you'll forgive me -- maybe I'll blog about it. Who knows?
Let us forget all this, and march cheerfully into the zany creativity of the very talented Sarah Slean. Classically trained, she signed a unique deal with her record label that allowed her to hone her skills for years before releasing a proper debut album-- and when Night Bugs came in 2002, it was as stunning, virtuosic and witty as her fans had hoped.

Day One followed in 2004, and while it embraced a more guitar-based sound on some tracks, other songs-- like "Your Wish Is My Wish"-- proved that Slean and her voice alone could still produce beautiful results.

Here's a live version of the song from 2005:





Unlike many artists, Sarah isn't afraid to adapt her songs for other settings. One of the songs she rearranges the most is "Lucky Me", which was originally a pop-rock number but works just as well when paired with a string quartet, as seen below:




Her last album released on a major label was The Baroness in 2008, an emotionally charged record that put much of its focus on Slean's piano and vocals. Here's the no-nonsense lead single from that album, "Get Home":




After leaving Warner Music, she teamed up with the Art of Time Ensemble (which reinterprets the work of Canadian songwriters) in 2009 to release Black Flowers, a collection that included songs by everyone from Leonard Cohen to Mary Margaret O'Hara. One of the best results of that pairing, "I'll Never Tear You Apart", even had a (suitably chilling) video made for it. Take a look:




Cheating lovers... bizarre images... this is turning out to be a very depressing One-Off Sunday Spotlight, isn't it?

Never fear, for I possess the cure! A double dose of hope, provided by a fun cover of Madonna's "Material Girl" and a joyous live version of "Day One" (both captured right here in Winnipeg, don'tcha know):





Until next time,

Paul

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