I’ve been putting off writing this review for days. What I thought would be a simple task has turned into one of the most difficult articles of the year to write. It’s not that I’m struggling to think of nice things to say about Sarah J Stanley’s latest offering, The Earth Is Flat. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’m trying to stop myself gushing about this amazing album in a kind of embarrassing fanboy-like manner. But I’ll try and retain my composure just long enough to tap the keyboard in front of me and write some words about one of my new favourite albums...
The Gardener of Eden is, perhaps, the perfect album opener. It’s striking and memorable, providing a strong foundation for the record to build off of. The track begins, like many of Sarah’s, understated and unassuming, her haunting vocals accompanied by delicate ukulele strumming. But then suddenly the track swells majestically to incorporate an epic, sprawling drumbeat. It’s an incredibly affecting song.
And it just gets better and better. It would be impractical to discuss each of The Earth Is Flat’s sixteen tracks in detail, but each and every one is a stunning reminder of just how talented an artist and musician Sarah J Stanley is.
The piano-led I Just Knew is another early album highlight; with simple drums and electronic loops lying under rich vocals, it’s a wonderfully inventive track. Elsewhere on the album, Sarah displays her ear for affecting lyrics and melodies: the delicate finger-picking of Hold On Elijah; the wonderful, self-harmonising simplicity of Secretly Not; the indie-pop driving force of You Are My Daughter.
Write It All Down is a beautiful ballad, The Dust Fall is a peacefully ambient soundscape, Corner of Your Eye is an incredibly endearing pop song; at every turn, The Earth Is Flat presents something new and exciting for the listener, taking them on a real journey other musicians could only hope to emulate.
At one and a quarter hours, The Earth Is Flat is a fairly lengthy album, but at no point does it seem overlong; instead it continues to grow and evolve throughout. Produced perfectly, it is an atmospheric listen that draws you into the folds and layers present in the music.
I know it’s early in the year – it’s only March as I write this – but The Earth Is Flat is already a strong contender for the top spot of my ‘Albums of 2013’ list. It is, quite frankly, sublime.
The Earth Is Flat by Sarah J Stanley is out now.