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2008 release from the Juno and Gemini-nominated Canadian singer/songwriter, published poet, accomplished painter and renaissance woman, her first album of new material in over three years. This is Slean's fourth studio album since she debuted on the music scene in 1997. Since her debut, she's also managed to release three EPs and a live album, each of them earning her more fans and more critical accolades. 12 tracks. Warner.
Sarah Sleans recipe for her musical concoctions is unwaveringly consistent: take a handful of Cabaret-affected melodies, add a sprinkle of musical theatre, then steep that all together in a stockpot of fragile but powerful emotions. With some of the singers earlier releases, Slean seemed to be trying terribly hard to sound deep and wise; thankfully, that quality has softened somewhat over time. As a result, the music on her fifth CD The Baroness flows more effortlessly and beautifully than any of her previous works. The discs first single Get Home is by far the most impressive track on the disc, an incredibly arresting breakup song written from the point of the other woman as she tells her lover to head back home to his wife. It is the first in a handful of tracks that showcase her growth as a songwriter, further separating her from the artists that she has frequently been compared to in the past, ranging from Kate Bush to Fiona Apple. Slean admittedly does revisit the Cabaret style occasionally (Hopeful Hearts, Euphoria) but it is the sparse musical moments of her and her piano where the singer shines the brightest. Noteworthy highlights include Goodnight Trouble -- which has a Pink Floyd-esqueness to it as the song rises from its din to a resounding orchestral rock peak -- and Please Be Good To Me a Leonard-Cohen-meets-Reba-McEntire number that is dense with ache and beauty. --Denise Sheppard
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Top Customer Reviews
It is pure Sarah Slean: what you loved in the previous albums you shall find here as well, although one might feel that "The Baroness" is indeed endowed with more maturity than her past efforts. Could it be love's omnipresence (or absence of it...) that made her turn her lyrical subjects and musical ears toward a more somber, solemn, simple source of inspiration?
Anyway, whatever else I might add about "The Baroness", buy it and see and hear for yourself...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Even within Slean's own fan community, opinion about this album is divided, only because its slower, more plodding, and far more introspective than any of her earlier works. While many reviewers have called the songs 'same-sounding', this is in fact untrue. The tracks here are definitely not upbeat or happy tunes, but their effectiveness is enhanced through their icy, solitudinal quality - something that is present throughout the entire record.
Highlights are many - especially the beautiful "Sound of Water" (a personal favorite) and the addictive "Willow". This is certainly one of those albums that grows in stature and importance every time you play it - the repeat value here is astounding, and the songwriting is impeccable - perhaps a little too simplistic at times, but nevertheless really lovely. Her earlier release, "Day One" was more 'dramatic', but this record finds Sarah in a regal and contemplative mood, and the results are stunning.
Music completists would like to note that Sarah Slean recorded an album right after this one entitled "The Baroness Redecorates" - it was a collection of B-Sides and extras from "The Baroness" sessions that she thought were important. For the record, that EP remains the best work Slean has ever recorded or released. The vibe of it resonates closely with the album title, and classic symphonies swirl amidst a sea of violins, strings, and Rachmaninoff-like melodies - its a 'classic' album in the truest sense of the word - only marginally related to pop music. I'd urge all listeners to track down that highly rare and sought-after EP - its running time however, is as long as this albums'. "The Baroness Redecorates" should have definitely been included with this album here, but it isn't.
Finally, Sarah Slean remains in a league of her own. If thoughtful, tuneful and gorgeous chamber-pop music with a classical edge is what you are looking for, this is it. She is intelligent beyond her years, and her music is low key and lush - this is exactly the sort of music that sophisticated indie-music lovers should pick up - its without a doubt essential listening.
Four and a Half Stars. Try to track down the out of print follow-up EP "The Baroness Redecorates" - its vital. I'm including the track listing for both CDs even though the latter is not available on Amazon (or anywhere else anymore, sadly).
Tracklisting for "The Baroness":
1. Hopeful Hearts
2. Get Home
4. Goodnight Trouble
5. Notes from the Underground
6. Sound of Water
7. No Place at All
8. Please Be Good to Me
10. So Many Miles
12. Looking for Someone
Tracklisting for "The Baroness Redecorates":
2. Lonely Side of the Moon
3. Modern Man I & II
5. The Rose
6. Hear Me Out
7. The "Disarm" Suite
I would recommend this album to anyone, I don't think you have to wait to be told to take it home. You won't be disappointed.
The production on this album is simple, lean like its on diet but its filling and on point. The vocals ooooo wee! Basically Sarah will blow you away, there is no one song that you would throw away. This album leaves you wondering why it didn't come with bonus cuts on it. Since I have to pick a favorite(s) they are Get Home, Please Be Good To Me and Looking for Someone, seriously there is no songs to skip only repeats. You've never heard a voice like this Sarah, Adeles voice may beg comparison but Sarah style and something in her voice makes her completely different and should make stand out on her own out there. The Baroness makes me proud to be Canadian, now start touring please!
Sarah Slean seems to have the recipe for great music: wonderful compositions (each and every one of the songs is indeed a composition, which is why her albums are never boring), great instrumental arrangements, a good well-rounded voice (not a single jarring note to be found), and, last but not least, interesting lyrics. Since she is so young, one can only hope many more albums such as this one are in store for us.