Newfound Lightness in Sarah Mary Chadwick Sound
“[New Zealander] Sarah Mary Chadwick has spent a lot of time mulling heavy questions. In interviews over the past few years, the Melbourne[-based] singer-songwriter has discussed the immense pain of grief, the weight of religious symbology, the inner workings of Lacanian psychoanalysis, and the ways that watching Friends makes her think of her own mortality,” Pitchfork’s Colin Joyce writes in a review of Chadwick’s new album Please Daddy.
“She approaches such subjects with good humour, but the thoughtful way she dwells on them shows the kind of thinker and songwriter she is, with a sparse, quiet way of tackling grand philosophical concerns,” Joyce writes. “Alone, often accompanied by just a piano, she stares at the sky and demands answers from a higher power that may or may not be listening.
“Chadwick’s Please Daddy picks up pretty much exactly where its predecessor [2019’s The Queen Who Stole the Sky] left off. The very first track is called ‘When Will Death Come’, and in its first verse, Chadwick admits that she’s back in the same rut she often dwells in: ‘I thought I was [past] this, but I’m losing it.’
“But part of what makes Please Daddy so moving is that you wouldn’t necessarily guess how heavy it is if you weren’t paying close attention to what she’s saying. The arrangements have the kind of swing that her music hasn’t made much room for before. Her songs are still pretty minimal and morose, but relative to the grayscale organ dirges of her last record, there are some positively vibrant moments.
“In the genteel melodies and floating arrangements, she suggests that it’s still possible to find meaning when you’re weighed down by these feelings. Grief, existential turmoil, and religious doubt may never leave you, but life always trudges on.”
NME’s Elizabeth Aubrey likens the sound of Chadwick’s new album to that of fellow New Zealanders Peter Jeffries, Chris Knox and Pip Proud.
“So too … Nick Cave and Bjork. The scarcity of the largely piano based instrumentation echoes Cave’s Ghosteen, while the use of flute evoke Bjork’s Utopia,” Aubrey writes.
Original article by Colin Joyce, Pitchfork, January 23, 2020.