Review Summary: Trading intensity for charm, Blasko's latest still leaves a light step of an impression
‘We won’t run /We will fight /All that keeps us up at night /There is far to go now /Let’s not waste a minute more’
…So sings Sarah Blasko on the lazy sunset tune of “We Won’t Run”. Careen your ears a little more, and there’s an almost conga line quality to it all too. In a strange way, it’s exactly this relaxed and resigned attitude that unconsciously becomes a running theme throughout As Day Follows Night
, the Australian singer’s 3rd and long awaited LP. Why strange? Well, Blaskos’ last effort, What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have
was a sprawling, emotionally drenched masterpiece that saw Blasko establish herself as one of Australia’s premier storytellers, ornate as it was with its lush and shimmering instrumental beauty and Blasko’s equally gorgeous vocals. And now… conga? Working this time around with Bjorn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn and John), As Day Follows Night
is defiantly a completely different beast, while still remaining undoubtedly within Blasko’s distinct musical orbit. Infused with a jazzy, percussive edge and complete with the subtle bouncing of double bass backing and soft sprinkles of piano, it’s an album that prances rather than prowls, carrying itself with a lightness as yet unseen by this Australian songstress.
It’s not to say of course that Blasko has stripped back as such – songs here are still adorned with elaborate instrumental flourishes, with strings and orchestral influences abound. What’s changed though is perspective – what’s she’s done instead is to step
back from the whirlwind of intensity that her earlier works captured. Songs like “Bird on A Wire” and “Lost and Defeated” swagger with a messy, tumbling character, while “Over and Over” also brings to the table one of the Blasko’s lightest moments, driven by the upbeat twinkling of a glockenspiel backing one of her most self-assured vocal efforts on the record. It’s a Blasko caught surveying the landscape, assessing the damage as it were, bristling with clam, while still remaining genuinely confident with itself among the wreckage. It’s telling too that in keeping with all this, nothing here really strikes exceptionally deep – after all, there are no real targets here to hit, buried as they are within Blasko’s oblique lyrical webs, leaving instead only themes to swing at.
Not that there aren’t bouts of self-doubt here either, and all throughout there’s a definite feeling that if Blasko pursued her emotions hard enough, the albums confident façade could simply snap in two. Take for example her sensual crooning on “Is My Baby Yours”: ‘You can’t make somebody love you/ When they’re missing somebody else’, before daring itself to ask the dreadful question over the pretty acoustic picking of baroque themed melody. So like most of what Blasko does, there’s pain beneath it all and it’s possible to hear Blasko feigning her resignation as a brew of hope and fear tumbles underneath the veneer, especially on lead single “All I Want”, which spirals along the lines of ‘I can't even understand me/ So don't think that you can help’. Those looking for a glimpse into the familiar darkness of Blasko’s past work will still find it here as well, most prominently on the album’s ghostly closer, “Night and Day”, as it suspends itself, spider like, above the motion-stopping delicacy of its wandering guitar arpeggios.
While the truth is that it doesn’t always hit the highs that Blasko has proven herself to be able to muster in the past, As Day Follows Night
marks itself as being Blasko’s most charming record yet, trading intensity for a light step that will leave an impression on whomever it touches.