Record Review: Sara Beck’s “A Simple Thing”

by Dave Carew

One of the gifts that distinguishes the greatest acoustic-based singer-songwriters (Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, early Paul Simon, early Neil Young) is the ability to create songs so beautiful, so compelling and engaging, that the listener never notes the absence of full-blown musical production (bass, drums, etc.).  That stripped-down, “less is more” approach to the art of songwriting is the central ambition—and stunning achievement—of Sara Beck’s A Simple Thing.

Reminding us of her stature as one of the premier singer-songwriters of her generation, Sara Beck has crafted an album that is (by turns) so melodious, haunting, playful, and musically rich that it could serve as a compelling answer to the question, “What does the very best of contemporary acoustic music sound like?”

Whereas Sara’s previous album Technicolor evoked the bloom and ambiance of summer, this album feels more autumnal—an even deeper, more reflective and mature realization of the artist’s vision. The full palette of life colors are here—everything from the joy and innocence of the infectious, sing-along “Mud Pies” to the relationship-complexity of “Tightrope” and “This Too Shall Pass.”  All through the ride, we are treated to songs that are so melodic, so intelligently chiseled, that you will be playing them in heavy rotation in your head for weeks.

In the album’s 10th track, “One Stone,” Sara Beck sings “Everywhere I go / beauty’s always calling out my name / I do my best to answer.”  She does, indeed. And the evidence is in every track of this stand-out record, easily one of the year’s best.

For more information and to hear three new songs from the album, visit SaraBeck.net.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at XLibris.com. Dave also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

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Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

 

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