Music Reviews

posted: April 1, 2009


Sarazin Blake – The Air Your Lungs Forced Out The Air Your Lungs Forced Out

Same Room Records CD
Sarazin Blake – The Air Your Lungs Forced Out

This stunning folk/Americana album was originally released in 2007, but unfortunately no one noticed. Feeling that this title deserved a second chance, the folks at Same Room Records dusted it off, gave it more elegant packaging and crossed their fingers before sending it back out into the world. I’m glad they did, because this is one of the most compelling records I’ve heard this year.

Blake is a troubadour from the old school of folk; he’s abrupt, direct and has a lot on his mind. He’s certainly no babe in the woods, having released his first album of original material in 1997. (He has previously performed under his real name, Robert Blake, but decided to change it for obvious reasons.) While his music is more about electric and pedal steel guitars than an old beat-up Gibson J45 acoustic, he evokes the same wry cadences as Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan or perhaps even Woody Guthrie. Some Celtic influences find their way into the mix, which isn’t surprising since Blake has built a strong following in Ireland over the years.

Blake recorded this album with Mike Grigoni (pedal steel, Dobro), Josh Brahinsky (upright bass) and Jordan Rain (drums). His political leanings do snap into focus in songs such as “Midterm Elections,” where he talks about broken promises in a pre-Obama world, but more often than these songs are personal, using wide dynamic swings to support his stream-of-consciousness narratives. Be sure to hang around for the hidden track at the end, which is an instrumental jam version of a very familiar song.

What’s most astonishing about this album is the sound quality. New releases from small independent labels can be a mixed bag, but this recording captures a level of intimacy I haven’t heard in a while. This album was recorded in a fairly small room, with a close miking technique allowing the listener to hear deep into the performance and notice details like the rattling of the snare drum next to the guitar amp, and the footsteps of the musicians as they move about the room. The sound of the upright bass is so forward and full that you’ll think that it’s been mic’ed by a little man living inside of it. This is a great album to test the dynamics of your system, and I plan on listening to it often over the next few months.

–Marc Phillips