Here’s some recent Sarah June reviews:
Gothic-folk singer-songwriter Sarah June’s debut album In Black Robes can be a bit unsettling on the first listen. Her child-like voice, reminiscent of Johanna Newsom or Cranes’ Alison Shaw, and accompanied solely by acoustic guitar sounds ghostly, haunted and decidedly eerie. Get past that however and you discover beautifully crafted songs steeped in the folk and blues tradition. ‘Cowboy’, ‘Bluesy Melody’ and ‘Brand Of Bitterness’ have a jazzy feel to them while ‘Judgment Day’ (“The hooded man with the bony hand / he pointed to me one day”) and ‘The Reaper’ have that scary messin’-with-the-devil storyline of the old blues classics. ‘From My Window High’, Paper Lantern and ‘In Your Chevrolet’ are delightfully pure folk, June’s voice transporting the songs along while adding a distinctive and original element often missing in tradition folk fare. In Black Robes is a lovely debut record, unusual and unsettling and very enjoyable, with 13 distinctive tunes that should appeal to adventurous folkies and indie listeners alike.
~ The Music Fix
Sure the songs she writes are filled with themes of death, loneliness, and sadness, but Sarah Rose sings like an angel (a baby angel) and plays guitar with fantastic musicianship. The songs may be simple, but their lyrics are fascinating (4 is a sweet, sad love song, while 2, 5, and 6 deal with death, which June sees as “home”), and her versatility as a guitarist is admirable (alternating between folk, jazz, and blues). This is a must-play for The Suicide Watch, as well as for many others who will appreciate this talented musician.
~ Pax Humana, KFJC
Charles Schneider interviewed Sarah June for Dream #9, and I favorably reviewed her debut album This Is My Letter to the World (Hand-Eye 2008), I’m happy to report that her sophomore effort is easily up to the standards of her first. Still all created by Sarah alone in her apartment, armed with her distinctive voice and usually a guitar. One of the many standout songs is her gorgeous contribution to Dream #9’s CD, the sublimely spooky The Reaper, (a fact which is curiously not mentioned). Brand of Bitterness is beatnik jazzy coolness, and would sound perfect in a late night club. Her remarkable almost childlike voice recalls Julee Cruise, Joanna Newsom and Alison Shaw of Cranes. This includes a gorgeous rendition of Sally Go ‘Round Roses.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine
This is one pleasantly surprising CD to come out of the normally experimental/industrial/agitpop music to come from Silber Media, but for some reason, Sarah June made it on to the Silber label and is hence, ready and waiting for your attention.
Listening to it is pure bliss. It’s pretty much an almost “pizzicato” sound to it, a lot of finger picking with strong fingers, as well as just good picking all over; that and Sarah June singing in that sing-song, little girl pitch of hers, which is so beautiful sounding as well as damn cute it just can’t be ignored. I think that the clean, crisp acoustic guitar complements the perfectly pitched but precious and brittle voice, that of Sarah June.
The music is an ominous, darkly mirrored silhouette after silhouette of the coming of something. What is what the listener must find out for themselves, by personalizing it the listener can make it their own in that way.
Some stand-outs include: “Judgment Day”, “The Reaper” and the haunting, echoing “Brand of Bitterness”, one that features some fine work on the stand-up bass-fiddle and “Motown” – her “love letter” to Detroit, MI.
One other cut which really shows off some more of that great acoustic guitar work is the penultimate song, “Fencepost”. The final cut, “’Til You Hit the Pavement” is one of the first times in years that I’ve seen the abbreviation for the word “until” written correctly, as ‘TIL not TILL, which is a noun, meaning a drawer, as in a cash drawer in a cash register. It’s also a lovely, reflective song filled, not with anger or sadness but more of a “que sera sera” kind of attitude.
~ Kent Manthie, Reviewer Magazine
Sarah June is a product of her environment growing up. As a child in the urban wasteland of Detroit, June was surrounded by a city on the decline. Like any flower that grows up in the cracks of the street, in order to survive as an artist Sarah June needed to transplant herself. Chicago came first, but Sarah June ultimately settled in San Francisco. With a subtly intricate acoustic guitar style and a voice that will make you think she’s a young, uncertain child, June spins the sort of webs in song that grow from a childhood spent in a land where hope is a memory. Sarah June’s sophomore album, In Black Robes finds the artist embracing her voice as a songwriter and opening up to the world as unfurling to the morning sunlight.
In Black Robes opens with “Cowboy”, a song that’s more fulfilling musically than lyrically. It’s an odd start, but befitting of what is to come. “Crossbones In Your Eyes” is exceedingly odd lyrically, but there’s something magnetic about the song. You’ll find yourself revisiting this one based on an elusive and obscure beauty that hides within. One of the highlights of the album is “From My Window High”, a love song written from afar to multiple people. The song is very unusual, combining a pining vulnerability with a genteel creep factor that’s ultimately harmless. Sarah June gets inventive on “Bluesy Melody”, a nice change of pace from the more introspective material that haunts In Black Robes.
Sarah June shows a fine touch for imagery on “Paper Lantern”, an angst-filled tune that queries the future for answers that will only come in time. “In Your Chevrolet” seems like it might connect with “Crossbones In Your Eyes”, and it’s difficult to tell whether the song is full of subtle innuendo or just atypical imagery. The stark harmonies of the song are lovely and disturbing all at once. “Motown” finds Sarah June offering words of encouragement to her hometown. Closing out with “‘Til You Hit The Pavement”, Sarah June goes out with a bit of attitude in a powerful tune that will leave you with a strong impression of the artist.
In Black Robes has a number of levels of meaning. Depending on your age, perspective and tastes it’s going to appeal to different people in different ways for different reasons. The juxtaposition of a world-weary world view with Goth tastes and a vulnerably sweet, child-like voice is interesting enough to pull most listeners in for at least a few songs. Sarah Junes misses once in a while, but in general the songwriting is quite strong. In Black Robes was recorded entirely solo in Sarah June’s apartment, and the stark simplicity and isolated feel of the recording lends it significant power. Whatever your final opinion, In Black Robes and Sarah June will make a distinct impression on you.
~ Wildy’s World
Sarah June’s sophomore album, In Black Robes, is a breathy, soul-plucking follow-up to her 2008 debut entitled This is My Letter to the World. We’re going to go whole hog and just say it – we love this album. No objections there. Our only objection is the idea that in one way or another this is considered to be a “goth” album. Perhaps it’s us, but the closest thing to goth imagery we’re seeing is June herself in press shots – all of which is fitting of who she is, but not necessarily a reflection of her musical genre.
Quite thankfully, her goth-ness is not quite the selling point as Avril Lavigne’s “punk-ness”, but we digress. We’re actually getting more of a subdued ethereal rock with folk/Americana undertones and a bleary-eyed view of life. Sure, we are haunted by ghosts present, past, and future, brought to light by June’s signature harmonies in an at times otherwordly key. But all this does not a solely-goth album make. June’s style is much more than that, and whether or not she knows it, she owns it.
Of course, while that