SARAH MARY CHADWICK – ” The Queen Who Stole The Sky ” Albums Of 2020

Posted: December 16, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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New Zealand’s Sarah Mary Chadwick first made a name for herself as the singer/guitarist of the grungy band Batrider, but she’s been pursuing a solo career since 2012 and her fifth solo album, “The Queen Who Stole The Sky”, is a triumph like few others. Sarah, who normally plays guitar or keyboard, was commissioned by the City of Melbourne to perform an original piece on the Melbourne Town Hall’s 147-year-old pipe organ, the largest Grand Romantic organ in the Southern Hemisphere. Sarah Mary Chadwick has always been an artist who goes ‘all-in’ emotionally, and on this album, she’s playing the hand of her life.

The first time we heard some of the songs from Please Daddy was in St Paul’s Cathedral. Chadwick was on the organ, solo, hidden away behind the pulpit while her howls echoed off the arches. Listening from the pews these tracks sounded like a natural extension of her last album, The Queen Who Stole The Sky, which was written on Melbourne Town Hall’s 147-year-old grand organ. The sparseness and the weight of it all was overwhelming, in a way.

On record, Chadwick feels closer. Her backing band have returned – Geoff O’Connor and Tim Deane-Freeman on bass and drums, Hank Clifton-Williamson and Joel Robertson on flute and trumpet – and the snare-heavy percussion and lilting flute especially add a lightness that makes you remember that Chadwick’s explorations into mortality and grief aren’t meant to be cold. Life’s a bitch and you die every day. You can’t ignore it, but you can’t let it crush you either.

The organ sound is ENORMOUS, and the songs are just superb. Her voice arches with the aching power of Bjork and the frail grace of Neil Young. It’s an overwhelming listen, with the emotional heft of of a Gorecki symphony. It’s an albums that renders pain, beauty, grief and joy into a singular, rolling wave.
Let it wash over you and take you where it will.

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That piece became The Queen Who Stole The Sky, which was recorded live and then turned into Sarah’s new album. It’s a concept that would be interesting even if the album wasn’t that fun to listen to, but it is fun to listen to. It manages to have both the accessibility of her earlier work and the pure uniqueness you would expect from a project like this.

On this album, I keep coming back to thinking she sounds like Amanda Palmer meets Bjork, and it’s rare to even hear someone attempt sounding like that, let alone pull it off as masterfully as Sarah Mary Chadwick does. I’d like to think that comparison is at least enough to make you curious enough to listen (if you haven’t already), but this is not really the kind of album you can compare to other artists anyway. Like Amanda and Bjork, Sarah Mary Chadwick is a true original on The Queen Who Stole The Sky. Not only did she have the technical skills to pull off this task, she was able to come out with a personal, emotional album in the process. The pipe organ is a grand, majestic instrument, but The Queen Who Stole The Sky still sounds intimate.

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