Putting together a little bit of Fiona Apple with Diamanda Galas for eir first track, “Own Skin”, the Spartan nature of the track works to accentuate the vocal inflection of Sarah. Going back to the watering-hole for the second track, “Sweet Candlelight”, albeit with a R&B-infused bassline, Brindell seems similar to Leah Zicari in eir seamless ability to move through genres. If I recall, Zicari’s album started off in much the same way, but “Sweet Candlelight” suffers from the same Spartan-nature that made “Own Skin” memorable. If an individual like Pharrell or Kanye West were able to work their magic on this track, the high-level of the vocals would have an analogue in the music, something that is simply not the case with the track as found on this disc. Tying in the bass-line from the second track for “Aphrodite” and bringing back the Fiona Apple-esque singing style of “Own Skin”, Sarah makes a taut and strong connection between the different tracks on “Piece of Mind”. The chaos introduced in terms of the piano and drum lines on “Aphrodite” is not enough to caus the track to derail, but introduces some outside-the-box type of feeling to the track.
Opening up “Purple Lullaby” with a number of canned sounds (including a policy siren and a train stopping”, the horn/piano duet works in providing a fairly blank canvas for Sarah to use eir vocal paint on. The track has a musical-esque feel – almost a mix of “Somewhere That’s Green” and more traditional blues singing. The only thing that weakens what is a strong track is the extended length of the track; Brindell does a good job in trying to create enough new vocal trills and sounds to make the track different on the fifth minute than it was on the first, but fails in keeping the track fresh and new.
Sarah’s music is inoffensive and light, almost a type of pop for the adult contemporary crowd. I am afraid it has struck out in a direction that will forever leave Brindell in a success limbo – not flashy and brash enough for the kids, but too ethnic for the stodgy, older denizens of society. One can admire Brindell in coming out with “Piece of Mind”, but later-disc tracks like “Shadow” show that there can be only so much innovation to be found in the styles of music Brindell finds eirself most comfortable in.
Top Track: Sweet Candlelight
Sarah Brindell – Piece of Mind / 2003 Dragon Lady / 7 Tracks / http://www.dragonladymusic.com / Reviewed 10 February 2005