There is a very fine line between “clever” and “cutesy” – and cutesy usually winds up smarmy and annoying, especially when it comes to music.  Sarah Dooley, however, knows how to be clever, a little whimsical (but not overboard) and very deft at juggling with her lyrics and arrangements.  Her vocals are warmly embracing; they range from soft and whispery to husky and seasoned – always tuneful and fitting to the songs.  This debut album, Stupid Things, is a collection of piano-based melodic pop with wry lyrical observations that are charming and endearing.  “Peonies” is a sweetly-sad number (“…I left with a popsicle of peonies…”); “Willow Tree” is a subdued moment that builds up to an emotional pitch with its pleading vocals at the end.  “Nine Inch Snow” begins as a nice, stripped down piece which changes direction with a lush build up and arrangement; “I Want You To Wonder” is a gentle, bare bones “fuck you” song, which is the best way to deliver the message “you broke my heart, you piece of shit” (NOT her lyrics, just a statement!).  It takes subtlety, confidence and skill to do this and Sarah Dooley has it.

This is a fine entry into the recorded music world.  It’ll be fun watching her develop even further.  Stupid Things is quite smart.


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About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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