Red Request Records
By Al Kaufman
It would be easy to write Sarah Siskind off as just another hippie chick. Just read some of the liner notes on Novel: “All drums and percussion were handmade or household objects.” Or how about, “Sarah makes unique jewelry made from beads, charms and the like that she finds on tour.”? And it doesn’t hurt that her singing and songwriting recall that ultimate hippie chick, Joni Mitchell.
Just give a quick listen to “Take Me.” Siskind is angelic, but her voice is simply too powerful and elegant to ever be confused for vulnerability. Over a tense, minor key, Siskind threatens, “I’m about to burn this down,” before professing, “I want to be a lover.” Vulnerability? No, just the God’s honest truth.
When not sounding like Mitchell, Siskind’s voice recalls the rich beauty of Carly Simon. Songs like “Novel” and “Feeling for You” have a certain wide-open, unabashed honesty about them in the same way that Simon could pull off a song like “Nobody Does It Better.” Although Siskind planned on recording the songs on Novel with her band, they sound full and lush with just Siskind playing all the guitar, bass and “organic percussion” parts. Excessive studio tinkering would only have detracted from their natural beauty.
But Siskind is more than just a ’70s chick clone. “Didn’t It Rain,” a gospel-tinged jazzy number, is the perfect toe-tapping closer. As Carly Simon herself might say, “Nobody swings it better.”