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Sarah Blacker has steadily been gaining attention around her home of New England since her debut album, The Only Way Out Is Through, came out in 2009. Recently, she was named Female Performer of the Year in the New England Music Awards and has toured with big names like Rusted Root, Sara Bareilles, and Jason Isbell. She has also released a handful of new music with 2011’s Come What May, 2012’s Perfectly Imperfect EP, and now 2013’s Precious Little Things. Her folksy singer-songwriter style fits in perfectly with modern trends, but with her latest release Blacker has managed to carve out her own niche in the genre, thanks to her unique singing voice and songwriting style.
The one thing that immediately stands out is the impressive musicianship on this album. Blacker is particularly talented with her stringed instruments and shows off her acoustic chops on a handful of songs. It certainly helps her differentiate herself from other singer-songwriters who are content with simply strumming along without adding their own touch or flavor to the instrumentation. The production, done by Sean McLaughlin (Marilyn Manson, Death Row Records), is crisp and clear giving these songs a nice warmth and breadth to breath. The album itself exudes a nice New England-esque charm, recalling quaint villages and rolling hills.
“Perfectly Imperfect” begins the album with a soft ukulele strum and Blacker’s calming vocals. The song slowly brings in a bouncy rhythm section complete with fingers-a-snappin’ that will surely get your toes tappin’. However, the song’s breezy and carefree attitude stops it from being a full-fledged rump shaker as the song is perfectly content with watching the world roll by. However, this isn’t a bad thing as “These Summer Nights” also demonstrates Blacker’s knack for crafting these joyful, carefree songs that are just bursting with laid-back fun.
Blacker also reveals her diversity in songwriting styles as “Pluggin’ Away” is more of a pop-blues hybrid that stands out because of her sweet sounding voice. “Revelry of Heart” follows the same blueprint with a heavy rhythmic focus on kick drums and hand-claps. Precious Little Things is a short EP, but never manages to falter because of the wide-breadth of Blacker’s songwriting skills.
“The Most Beautiful Thing” is a combination of these two, somewhat different styles, with Blacker playing the ukulele in a more bluesy style and utilizing the guitar as more of a rhythmic component rather than a melodic one. Blacker also shows of her vocal range, reaching up for those high notes while quickly unfolded the song’s melody. It certainly sounds like a Sarah Blacker song; she’s gone a long way in finding her own voice in this song.
Based in Cambridge, Sarah Blacker has a promising future amongst the singer-songwriters of New England. Certainly all the acclaim and accolades are nice, but Precious Little Things is an artistic accomplishment unto itself. New England should expect great things.