"Take these words we spoke with grace" whispers UK-based Sarah de Warren on Dust, beginning a four-track EP with a gossamer piano melody. It's a delicate, spacious song that isn't totally indicative of de Warren's musical personality as a whole. For example, the out-of-rhythm singing style in the eponymous track is decidedly tougher, with lines like "I'm not in because I need revenge" that contrast, both musically and lyrically, with the little-girl lost image de Warren just constructed. The song displays more instrumental variation and as such boasts a bigger sound, giving much-needed confidence to the wounded vocals. At this point you realize this is something like a breakup record and you can make your own conjectures as to how much you'll enjoy it. But you're already halfway through so why not see what else the young bird has to offer?
"I Dared" is an even mix of the previous two songs, with the same slightly off-beat lyrical delivery walking along piano notes. An even chorus hears de Warren accusing somebody (you? me, the reviewer?) of shutting her out because she "dared to shine.” And shine she does on the last track, "Watching Lights,” a summer evening pop number with various electronic trickery and de Warren using a more breezy, collected delivery than previously displayed.
I'll be frank, I'm not a fan of this sort of music, the solo female artist who softly plays piano and sometimes other instruments (and yah, at this point it's its own genre). But de Warren has enough patience and talent to pull off tried and true methods to make them sound fresh. It's the small touches I appreciate the most; the word "dust" echoing out of existence during "Dust", the lounge-music percussion on "Tear It Up" and the fluid guitar solo toward the end of "Watching Lights.” It's those talents she'll have to exploit to make it big in this music-saturated world, though she's been playing since she was 12 so she knows what she's doing. She does need to watch out for production value; her voice hits high notes all too frequently which get in the way of the lyrics, and I'll never fault an artist for moving drums to the forefront of a song. I'll might never listen to her again, but she's cool in my book, and if she becomes the next big thing, you know where you heard her first and who from.
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