sat 22/07/2017

CD: Sarah Blasko - I Awake | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sarah Blasko - I Awake

CD: Sarah Blasko - I Awake

An orchestral setting and defiant mood punctuate Australian chanteuse's fourth album

Across its 12 tracks, 'I Awake' tackles the most intimate of themes
'I Awake' by Sarah Blasko: an album of self-discovery and, yes, awakening

It’s clear that Sarah Blasko is in a defiant mood right from the timpani roll that opens her fourth solo album. A lush, gorgeous work, in which the frantic strings of the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra offset the Australian singer’s husky, intimate vocals, I Awake is an enthralling and unsettling listen.

Blasko is the first of the three singers behind Seeker Lover Keeper, her project with countrywomen Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby, to release her own material since their collaborative album was released last year. Although her contributions to the project tempered its more sugary-sweet moments with a certain world-weariness, the rawness of Blasko’s own writing still comes as a surprise. Across its 12 tracks, I Awake tackles the most intimate of themes - self-discovery and, yes, awakening - but with their startling orchestral arrangements providing plenty to listen to, the personal nature of these songs reveals itself only slowly, with repeated listens.

Her voice is one of steely self-assurance, more than capable of carrying the material on its own: on “Bury This” it quivers with restraint as delicate pizzicato hints at the existence of an ocean of strings that never fully appears; and it takes the lead on a sparse, ghostly “Here”. But there’s no denying that it’s the combination of vocals and orchestra that set I Awake apart from similar singer-songwriter fare, especially given the production credits are Blasko’s own. The string arrangement on “An Arrow” rolls back and forth, claustrophobic and seasick, while “God-Fearing” comes in an energetic rush and is the strongest thing here. “Not Yet” closes the album as defiantly as it opened: with a rich, gothic melody, a devilish crescendo and lyrics that reinforce that the strongest faith is that in the self.

Watch the video for "God-Fearing"


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