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As moving as Kim Blackburn, Sarah Mary Chadwick is back with her second official full-length release following her debut solo LP Eating for Two (Bedroom Suck Records, 2012). While preserving her distinctive traits of bare-skinned honesty and visceral delivery, 9 Classic Tracks sees Chadwick venture into decidedly more lush territory—her unmistakably raw vocals present this time through a vaseline filter and with an air of reflection indicative of both artistic growth and intimate evolution. In a new collaboration for Chadwick, 9 Classic Tracks was recorded and produced by Geoffrey O’Connor (The Crayon Fields) and mastered by David Walker.
“Where do I fit in?” she inquires on the opening track “Ask Walt,” setting the tone for what soon becomes clear is an album of great introspection. But rather than alienating the listener with inward-facing questions, Chadwick’s astute observations on relationships and the utter messiness of love are both deeply idiosyncratic and universally relatable. In the thick of the album, the mercurial fifth track “Same Old Fires” moves from a hymn-like whisper into an uncharacteristically sunny backing beat layered contrarily behind emotional cries of “I’m tired of feeling the same old burns / From wandering through the same old fires,” before transitioning into a similar lament in the sixth track, “I’m Back Where I Was.”
9 Classic Tracks reaches a turning point with “I’m Like an Apple with No Skin,” a song that will resonate with anyone who has walked away from a relationship in the name of self-preservation. Closing with “Until the Grave,” Chadwick repeats the refrain “Until the grave I’m fighting.” As hopeful and irrepressible as it is depressing, that confusion and acceptance is present throughout the entire album, summed up in a line in “Lying Down”—“’Cause every human here / Is a prism dark and clear / First glass, then dust.”