Hailing from Peoria, IL, Sarah Schonert pushes her own songsmithing boundaries in her new record Songs About Sound. The opener “All This Noise,” the gal uses noise as a metaphor for distraction that keeps her from focusing on her core. Through slick piano drops over subtly moody midtempo, she delivers the emotional claustrophobia we experience when external voices cloud our visions. In “Chamade,” she kicks off his drumbeats and stretchy synths where she asks for “time out please” to communicate with someone better.
In “The Sound of Falling Down,” Sarah places us on the verge of a cathartic moment where she shuffles through the panic and imageries that cross her mind before hitting the ground. Whether the song is symbolic for having a nervous breakdown or literally falling, it delivers an ominous intensity. This same kind of intensity is felt throughout “Waffles Over Pancakes” where the dripping pianos and echoes yield a dark atmosphere. But lyrically, the track speaks to our desire to connect with our loved ones, no matter how trivial and intimate the topics are.
In “Not Swearing,” the glimmering strings deceitfully invites us into a laidback soundscape before the riffs flood in and evoke an 80s pop vibe. This same kind of retro feel is accentuated in “Hold You Up,” where the pulsing beats and Sarah’s soaring vocals feel like time capsule. Perhaps the most notable part of the record is “Formular” where Sarah lets us indulge in the piano-laden, atmospheric soundscape. Similarily, Sarah uses melody to deliver the main emotional message in “Where Were You.” Although she does use lyrics in here, she uses simple and brief phrases to shun a person who failed to be there for her.
In “Ain’t No Weight But Your Own,” through glass-cutting vocals and heartfelt riffs, Sarah offers pulls us out of tunnel vision while sending us a message of perseverance. “I try, you try, maybe not, but why? / I fly, you fall, blame me for not catching you.” The final song, “Oh Gretchen,” feels like a trip of rediscovering one’s identity. You are worth more / Than just your name.” Songs About Sound explores our relationship with others and ourselves while also tapping into the things we listen and hear during those experiences of change. Whether these sounds are from our environment or within ourselves, Sarah brings them into her sound and gives her own voice to them.
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