There is something I find immediately and charming about Sarah McQuaid’s voice upon first listen to her newest release, Walking Into White – it’s soothing and embracing and doesn’t sound like what can consider atypical of folk-style performers. Although she’s U.K.-based, Ms. McQuaid hails from Chicago (! Aha!), but her style of acoustic playing reminds me of Nick Drake’s way along with the near-huskiness of her voice (yes, yes, I know Nick Drake gets name-checked a lot and so what? He was brilliant. Period.). Nonetheless, her style is very lush and expansive and makes this album something to sink my teeth into.
From the opening of the stark/bleak “Low Winter Sun” to the powerhouse of “Where The Wind Decides To Blow”, this is top of the mark song execution. Her masterful playing on “I Am Grateful For What I Have” (which has shades of Townshend’s acoustic picking style in there) is exquisite and chill inducing. There is a thread that pulls these songs together, via soundscapes that appear at the end of each track; from “Sweetness And Pain I” segueing into the album’s title track (which features just-right horn punches), this album reads like a novel. The foot-stop rhythm of “Jackdaws Rising” is another turn and the breeziness of “The Silver Lining” is a bright, acoustic pop direction.
Fourteen songs – fourteen chapters. All different, interesting, melodic, soulful, literate and enjoyable. Sarah McQuaid keeps a warm summer sound with this excellent album.
Walking Into White will be released in the U.S. on Friday, August 21st, 2015