CD Review: Sarah Slean, Land and Sea

In an age where the compact disc is in rapid decline, not many artists would have the inclination to release a double album, Sarah Slean did on Sept. 27 of this year, one entitled Land & Sea. Produced with help from Joel Plaskett, Slean mixes solid and liquid with the two discs, managing to create a unique listening experience that caters to everyone’s tastes.

Land is the first disc in the album. As you might expect from the title, the songs on this disc feature strong, solid backbeats that serve as a base for the treble and melody. Slean’s tracks on this disc are sometimes bouncy, sometimes more laid back, but always keep you involved and engaged with the music. I was hit with the urge to either sing along with the lyrics or get up and dance around (I ended up doing both). Slean launches right into it with the first track “Life,” a rousing song that plunges you right into the disc without regret. The rest of the tracks on this disc give us a similar feeling. By the end, as Slean ends with “Society Song,” you will feel incredibly glad that you took the time to listen to this album.

On the second disc, Sea, Slean employs melodies reminiscent of ocean surf and the rise and fall of tides. Melodies and harmonies take precedence over dense bass and percussion, with heavier use of piano and orchestra in many of the songs. If you close your eyes and just listen, you can almost feel yourself rising and falling with the waves and smell the salt in the air. The order of the tracks is pretty well thought out on this disc as well. If you graphed the tempos of each song on one line you’d see a wave, rising and falling. A similar pattern is seen within each individual song as well.

Slean starts with “Cosmic Ballet,” which has a neutral tempo. In the middle of the disc, she has placed a track entitled “Napoleon,” which reminded me very much of something you might hear on the soundtrack of a pirate film and earned itself a place as my favourite track on this disc. The line on our tempo graph rises and falls a few more times before Slean ends with “My Eyes and Your Eyes,” showing off her amazing voice with heavy vocal presence.

Each disc displays Slean’s incredible talent, as well as her ability to produce tracks of varying styles. The discs are polar opposites, and it’s very easy to recognize which is which. The contrast between the two adds depth to the album as a whole and gives Slean credit as an artist. With such talent and passion displayed in one album, it’s difficult not to be impressed.

4 1/2 stars out of 5