Sarah Mary Chadwick - Flipped It EP Music Album Reviews

Sarah Mary Chadwick - Flipped It EP Music Album Reviews
Intimate and unadorned, these five recordings from the Melbourne-based artist sound like the dying embers of torch songs.

You can sense Sarah Mary Chadwick’s commanding presence from the audible breath that opens her new EP, Flipped It. “I hung my dreams on you,” she sings on the opening title track, after gathering that air like ammunition, piano joining tentatively. It’s a stark introduction with the confrontational immediacy of a punk song. It makes sense: The New Zealand-born chanteuse carved a niche fronting noise-rock outfit Batrider during the early aughts, later pivoting to a solo career with a softer set of tools but the same feral delivery. In her raw vocals and unadorned production, heartbreak becomes discomfitingly intimate, something painful, beautiful, and occasionally transcendent.

The five songs on Flipped It are a mix of new and old material, some salvaged from the cutting room floor and others recorded specifically for this project. Together, they sound like the dying embers of torch songs, throaty reflections warbled as though they’re being sung from the closet floor. In the title track, she describes her body “wide and open bright with fear,” and then, on “All Those Things We’ll Never Do,” she notes, “I’ve fallen down real bad, or who knows, maybe I’m just tired/But when you’re tired are you also deathly sad?” For the most part, contentment is out of reach, whether it’s because of her inherent nature or a deck stacked against her. In “The Impossible Task,” she forces herself to assume the roles of both “the abusive drunk and the nagging wife,” refusing, ultimately, to accept her partner’s insistence that she’s free enough to flip this script.

Even in moments of levity, Chadwick’s arresting alto—smoky like Cat Power’s Chan Marshall, but tattered and ominous like a bank of clouds—casts a sense of foreboding. “Lay Your Body on Mine” is ostensibly a celebration of love’s ephemeral nature, an urge to simply “let this diamond glisten now.” But the slow progression of organ chords alongside Chadwick’s melancholy voice turns things funereal, like she’s already looking back from a future where things didn’t work. It’s one of the weaker songs on the record, a mopey disjunct between style and substance that never quite coheres, whose vision of love feels blurry at best.

It follows, then, that the real diamonds on the EP are the songs where Chadwick’s inimitable voice finds a complement in instrumentation, like the willowy flute smuggled into “All Those Things We’ll Never Do.” The combination of the particulars of a breakup—having to reimagine every ritual, no matter how pedestrian—pairs especially well with the sparse piano, vocals, and woodwind. The same proves true for the accordion in “People Shouldn’t Set You Up,” a perfectly jolly contrast to the song’s defeatism. In this spate of introspective tracks, some unexpected texture lets air into an otherwise claustrophobic room. The EP’s best arrangements sprinkle dejection with glimmers of curiosity or defiance, a path to transcendence littered with the refuse of grief.
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Sarah Mary Chadwick - Flipped It EP Music Album Reviews Sarah Mary Chadwick - Flipped It EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 08, 2022 Rating: 5


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