A rare combination of sweetness, intelligence
and a sense of humour

ShortstopA virtually unknown recording, but superb in almost every way.
Necessary AngelsSound is perhaps more aggressive here, but this is still a highly enjoyable album
MisfitsA collection of odds and ends of the 'early garage recordings' type. Nothing sonically impressive.

Actually, I discovered Sara by chance. Someone recommended me 'Sarah' someone (on hindsight, I think he was referring to Sarah MacLachlan), and at Sembawang I saw Shortstop in US longbox press at Sembawang. I test-listened a Euro pressing, liked it, and bought the longbox.

She has a sweet voice which can go pretty low, and she does flex her vocal range when singing (come to think of it, usually in the choruses). Anyway, when struck me was that the 'fun' tone of the recording, coupled with unusually sensitive and witty songwriting. To top it all off, it is fantastically well-recorded. The wide soundstage (with better than average depth), the detail, and the general lack of digital nasties make this one of the best earlier DDD recordings. Compared to the very best, it is slightly on the thin side, but I still listen to it and I am still extremely impressed. 

Starting off with 'Shortstop', 1 amazing fact is revealed: no synthesisers. The first 2 tracks, 'In the Fields' and 'Shortstop' are brilliant.. You get guitars placed to the left and right, various sorts of percussion instruments popping in and out and giving a sense of an extended soundstage, satisfyingly well-defined bass, and with the vocals slightly recessed. And then the lyrics. They are long and minimal repetition. She writes songs to tell a story and the story develops as the song progresses. In 'In the Fields', she reminisces of her days with her ex-lover, but the mood turns darker. The fields where they made love turns into a 'city of weeds' where he hides from her, and where she must push the barbs away to reach the greener side. 'Shortstop' is a very clever narrative perhaps from a 'young' Sara. I not quite sure what it means, but maybe when I figure out in baseball what is the significance of a 'shortstop between here and the third (base)', I'll figure out what the song is about :)

As I
Circle the picnic table
Eyes watch
Me in my flowing dress
The sky is an unnatural shade of green
But its really just the light
Through the trees



The trend continues in Necessary Angels. Perhaps a slightly clearer recording (ADD), but with a forward balance which I initially found unpleasant, but after extended listening, it grew on me and I've since concluded that it is still acceptable (perhaps my numerous tweakings that smoothed the treble helped).

Misfits is just a sort of demo-tape compilation, strictly for Sara fans. I've yet to listen to Equal Scary People and 1 other album, and now I can't find them in Singapore anyway... I wonder if it has anything to do with Sara falling out with her record company?


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