Sarah Slean,
Blue Parade
(self-produced, 1999)

This is an art record. From the cover painting, done by Slean, to the carefully constructed poetry of the songs, Blue Parade is a work of art. It's also the kind of sad that's actually depressing. I'm a fan of sad songs -- I always have been -- but when a sad song makes you feel like jumping off a bridge instead of snuggling under the covers and listening to it over and over and over, it's just not as eternally touching.

Sarah Slean, who is a fixture on the Toronto club circuit, has a trembling, soulful voice. She's passionate and talented and writes very introspective, deep songs, but I find everything she performs on this record to be too slow and drawn out to really affect me positively.

Slean has recruited some talented musicians to play with her, most notably Starling bassist Maury LaFoy on "Twin Moon" and "Eliot," plus multi-instrumentalist Kurt Swinghammer. The instrumentals show a fine attention to detail and a strong musical sensibility. This is especially true of the string arrangements, all of which were composed and conducted by Slean. Horn accompaniment blends beautifully with Slean's piano on "My Invitation."

I've never been a fan of Slean's particular type of music; what it comes down to is that "Blue Parade" is just not my kind of record, as well-constructed as it may be.

[ by Rachel Jagt ]