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Sara Lowes - The Joy of Waiting

  by Owen Peters

published: 14 / 3 / 2015



Sara Lowes - The Joy of Waiting
Label: Railings Records
Format: CD

intro

Challenging and baffling but riveting second solo album from Manchester-based experimental musician, Sara Lowes


‘The Joy of Waiting’, Sara Lowes’ second album, has a pleasant distraction before a note is played. The distraction is that of Stanley Chow’s distinctive artwork on this stylish album cover. Its colour coding of two tone greens and pink lettering continues onto the CD as well. Shoals of fish swim in opposite directions, the colour scheme neatly maintained. Nice work, Mr. Chow. If you’re looking for conformity, structure, continuity of themes and an even musical pace, it ain’t on this album. If you're looking for snappy three minute ditties, it ain’t here. It’s easy to pop the cork on this album and muse over the variety of musical bouquets to be sampled. Isn’t it a tad lazy to relate each track to another artist or genre? It’s easy to play that game, but it’s a huge disservice to Lowes and the construction of this diverse and challenging album. There are some excellent tracks, and some which take a little more time to settle. Play it through your best quality speakers and without distractions. Yes. turn off your bloody phone. The Manchester troubadour is back. It is four years since Lowes’ last album, ‘Back to Creation’, in 2011. Rather than fronting her own material she has been involved as a band member of the Earlies, and supported the likes of Jens Lekman, Tindersticks on tour and Marina and the Diamonds, basically making music for other folks. The album opens with ‘Joy of Waiting’, a joyous cacophony of strings and piano in symphony mode. Crossing over from chamber to baroque to a heavy rock crescendo and back again during its span of seven minutes plus, it has an anthem vibe and the bravado of a film score in the making. “I Find You” is the first time we hear the vocals of Lowes. Well, not for a minute or so, as the string section leads in supported by Hammond organ. The pace conveys a 70’s wispy and pleasant folk tempo. It is easy to imagine while listening to it blue skies and warm summer days. I struggled with ‘J.B.Priestley’ and ‘Little Fishes’. Both have repetitive lyrics and links which stayed around for too long, although the bell ringing finale on the first track reiterates the attention to detail throughout the album. To my ears, these are the highlights: ‘Cutting Room Floor’ - If this had been released by certain bands of an early 70’s persuasion, it would be framed as an iconic piece of music. The format is Hammond organ, simple percussion and a chorus line of “All these good ideas on the cutting room floor.” Whoever is on keyboards, be it Lowes or Christian Madden, is absolutely wonderful. ‘The Clock Plays Its Game’ is the one track which has significant lyrical content, describing a walk by the shore and memories from long ago but not forgotten. An excellent use of strings and percussion perfectly compliment what has now developed into a layering of Lowes’ vocals. Put a scarf on, you really are beside the shoreline. ‘For the Seasons’ begins with an eerie choral atmospheric edginess. The piano solo somehow takes us on a celestial journey of space and peace. She takes us into Bach territory, effortlessly. The album has been produced by Lowes and Nicky/Christian Madden. It poses many questions I’d like to know. Is this a concept album? Do the tracks stand on their individual merits? Is that the intention? Is there a story unfolding before us, a theme, a message? Does Lowes have plans to play the album live? Now that would be a treat. There is no lyrics booklet (if indeed there is one), and I want to know more about her words and storytelling For some listeners the flow won’t be a comfortable listen, moving from ballad to pop to psychedelia and throwing in lengthy instrumental solos. Others will certainly cherry pick. When Lowes hits those keys and releases her pitch perfect angelic vocals, very few artists can match her range and artistry. ‘The Joy of Waiting’ is a well-crafted album in terms of production and content. Gareth Cousins mixed and mastered the album which lends to its diversity and challenging themes. My experience of the album is the more you play it then the more it’s understood. Or, should I say, if not understood then appreciated. I know Lowes works on other musical projects in and around the Manchester area. I hope we get to see her play live, and make more albums of this quality in the near future.



Track Listing:-
1 The Joy of Waiting
2 Most Things
3 I Find You
4 J.B. Priestley
5 Bright Day
6 Chapman of Rhymes
7 With a Mirror
8 Little Fishy
9 For the Seasons
10 Cutting Room Floor
11 Horizons
12 The Clock Plays Its Game


Band Links:-
http://www.saralowes.co.uk/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Lowes
https://www.facebook.com/SaraLowesMusic
https://twitter.com/saralowesmusic



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interviews


Interview (2015)
Sara Lowes - Interview
Manchester singer-songwriter Sara Lowes' new album 'Joy of Waiting' is one of the many projects filling her hectic schedule at present. Owen Peters chats with Sara to find out her plans, hopes and direction throughout the summer


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