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No Less Than Madder

Saint Low
(Thirsty Ear)

I'll admit that I've unfortunately never heard anything by Madder Rose. That may or may not be important in describing the sounds of Saint Low, mainly because the main person behind this group is singer Mary Lorson (of Madder Rose). From what I've read, however, she's taking things in a little bit of a different direction on this more personal release than with her more collaborative work with the other group. There's a little bit of jazz, a little bit of folk, and enough of an edge on the pop sounding songs that she won't be competing with any bubblegum artists anytime soon.

One of the best things that I can say about this album is that it would most definitely have a wide appeal. While fans of Sarah Mclachlan (with a bit of a darker edge) would probably enjoy it, it would probably also appeal fairly well to fans of alt-country with a female vocalist. The album is consistent and very well put-together and there are several tracks that completely stand out.

The album starts out with sort of a loose groove one the song "Anywhere." The rhythm section is swaggers while Lorson takes a more seductive tone with vocals. The college film major of Lorson shines through and the track is easily imagined as something sung in a smokey club scene. Things change up nicely on the piano and violin driven next track, and the album doesn't really hold still for very long with one theme, although several are revisited.

With a nicely varied arsenal of instruments (including some very nice use of warm keyboard sounds), the group creates songs that range from a more standard rock song ("Only One") to a touch of shuffling jazz ("Tall Trees"). On the longer "Crash," the group manages to start out things as sort of a dark noir track, only to have them build into a beautiful chorus that completely clears away the gloom. The album closes out with the epic "After the Fall" and manages to weave in everything from a touch of psychedelia to drone, managing to sound not unlike something Spiritualized would do. It's a nice way to wind down the end of the disc and shows that Lorson can write personal and interesting music just fine on her own.

Rating: 7