TL;DR REVIEW: IT'S AN AMAZING DISPLAY OF PIANO PLAYING WITH SONGS THAT SHOW EMOTIONAL REFLECTIONS OF A MATURE SONGWRITER WITH PLENTY TO OFFER.
There is something theatrical about Sarah Eide's self-titled album. The piano, which guides the listener through, recalls the iconic tone of musical theater. Or it could be the fact that Eide herself describes this stripped down work as "allowing the songs to take center stage." On this solo venture the piano is her backing vocals, her aching string arrangements, her bass, even her drums. Or it could be theatrical from the stories. The album cover hints at an element of fantasy which is immediately present on fabled songs such as Fishwife Advent and Prodigal Son.
One contrast to the theater would have to be her singing. Rather than the big belting of broadway, Eide doesn't hold out notes; instead preferring to punctuate each syllable with sharp breaths and vocal expressions to keep the rhythm. It's dynamic and it works very well for her. There are a lot of catchy tunes but my favorite example of Eide's voice would have to be the song Easy which concludes the album. "It don't come easy for you my love" she sings, drawing out a syncopated "E-e-easy" to emphasize her point.
It's telling that this is a self titled album. When Eide laments, "how you gonna live this life that you've been given?" or sings in the first person on Prodigal Son, you can tell she sees herself in these songs. They may have been written with someone else in mind but you can hear her pushing herself as well. Especially after the feisty rag of Shadow where Eide portrays her son, who follows her everywhere, as her conscience. "I cant shake you my shadow," she teases in the chorus. Excited but weary, Eide steps back to reflect on how to teach your children by example. "You're keeping me on my toes You're making me follow through." It's a great song and the fact that it is punctuated by a Ben Folds-ian, pound-style piano breakdown is just gravy.
It could also be that she is a folk artist and simply telling tales of others. Not that she's unaffected- the emotional resonance in her voice is proof of that- but she has the distance to hold some perspective. All in all, it's an amazing display of piano playing with songs that show emotional reflections of a mature songwriter with plenty to offer. You can hear more and purchase on Sara Eide's website.