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May 27, 2018







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Sarah McQuaid, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (Shovel And A Spade Records)

Boasting a slightly off guitar-tuning preference, a voice like Kim Carnes just before it went completely to hell and enough droop-folk to make Lera Lynn want to jump in just to stir up the pot, the tuneage of this Ireland-by-way-of America-based songstress is, to put it lightly, an acquired taste. She’s terribly artsy, plucking away at her acoustic guitar in these deeply contemplative, po-faced pieces, the same sort of things she’s peddled for the past 20 years, googly-eyed stuff that’s earned her comparisons to Sandy Denny, who cemented the gold standard of UK folk when she duetted with Robert Plant in “Battle of Evermore” on Led Zeppelin IV. McQuaid’s voice sounds wizened and in need of an overhaul, but that’s her trip, of course, and at least the weirdness gets deep, peaking during a rendering of good old Dies Irae, the opening theme from The Shining in case I haven’t reminded you of that enough. Like I said, an acquired taste. B+ 
— Eric W. Saeger




Sufjan Stevens, The Greatest Gift (Asthmatic Kitty Records)
CD Reviews: December 14, 2017

12/14/17
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



Sufjan Stevens, The Greatest Gift (Asthmatic Kitty Records)

As indie-folkies go, Stevens owned the early Aughts, but he’s slowed down in this decade, tabling two-count-’em albums in these seven years. Supposedly he was going to release some of the songs he’d contributed to Luca Guadagnino’s heavily acclaimed 2017 movie Call Me by Your Name, but instead, it seems, there’s this, a 10-song mixtape of remixes, outtakes and even iPhone demos from his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell, a stripped-bare, unusually maudlin joint that was written in the wake of his mother’s death. There are four new, unheard tracks, all of them nice and pretty and everything (based around a finger-picked guitar figure, “The Hidden River of My Life” is at once free and haunted), but — and I hate to quibble with something like this too much — it just feels like Stevens (and his fans) would want to start moving beyond this station of his career. Again, that’s not to say that even the remixes, such as Doverman’s powdery rendering of “Exploding Whale,” aren’t worthwhile, but we’ve already had a live release of this stuff. For completists, really. B — Eric W. Saeger

 






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