Sarah Donner – This is a Pegasus
by Levi West. Approved by Cyrus Rhodes
Stocked full of hooks and a jovial playing style that never lets its guard down, to melodies which linger long after the playing has passed. From the fringes of New Jersey comes Sarah Donner with her 4th release entitled “This is a Pegasus”. This stunning collection provides 13 buoyant and inventive tracks which play like a fresh new life, yet approaches them like old friends you feel you’ve known for a long time. This latest release pleasantly embraces the ears and is in a league all by itself with an elite spirit of eagerness, hope and vibrancy. The unique melodies soak every accomplished note from the beginning of “Signal” and “With Pride” through to climactic end of “Misunderstood” and the grand slam closer “Rogue”. It offers many musical familiarities, wearing those inspirations proudly on its sleeve showcasing pop musical influences hinged on impressive musicianship and a unique vocals from Donner. This is especially lacking on today’s pop. Case in point: This is one of the most interesting artists I’ve heard in a while, a long, long while.
Personally I can hear Indigo Girls, Erin McKeown, Tori Amos and of course Cat Power.
It’s fair to say that the CD goes far up and down the spectrum of emotions from Donner. CD is a bit bipolar – in a good way. Track 5 “The Rebuttal of Schrodinger’s Cat” and “Let Him go” are paired well together but are polar opposits compared to track like “Daniel” and “Perspective” Most of the album keeps you in a good, light hearted mood throughout. It has original songs reminiscent of modern Alt-Folk with songs written similar to that style yet surprisingly with a contemporary edge like Norah Jones. I say surprisingly because Donner can be effective in either a zany or serious setting. Though it certainly provides a consistent balance of some genres listed above I can also hear Pop and Contemporary Folk – the albums worst kept secret.
As the CD slowly advances the melodies, addictive hooks return sporadically from time to time with a beckoning potency not far away from the mediocre mainstream. Bottom line: there’s something much more tangible about this release compared to most of the CD’s that slide across my desk this year – seems very pure, honest and personified human strength and courage – in a zany way. All these traits probably describe Donner personally. All tracks emerge from a modest yet highly refined pop-rock web producing much in the way of thick bass lines, eloquent vocals, strings, guitar, piano rock solid rhythm guitar, earthy yet consistent sampling, bass and impressive solo segments. Yes there is a Kazoo solo.
The instruments, and subsequent meticulous movements provided by this experienced band will leave their mark on you instinctually and inspire the emotions. Donner’s voice does not jump out but has a modest quality which defines itself and work well within the setting of each piece. Her mesmerizing soprano coupled with the acoustical exuberance paints you an impressive picture upon a vibrant musical canvas. Artists like Sarah Donner are not a dime a dozen, they shine quite like a priceless gem in a crowded pan of mud.