Monday, 13 August 2012

Sara Dennis: Driftwood

Sara Dennis
Regular visitors to Marsh Towers will know the name of Sara Dennis; she has been appearing here regularly since 2010, most recently by dint of providing support for Rachel Harrington and The Knock Outs at The Cleveland Bay. Sara performed some of her new songs on that finest of nights and they were very well received.  

Sara at The Cleveland Bay
The Driftwood album has just been released and it is a fitting showcase of Sara's talents as a singer/songwriter. Driftwood is rooted in the acoustic folk ballad genre, with each of the 11 songs telling moving stories via the medium of Sara's beautiful, wistful voice. It's a voice that simply demands attention, no matter how softly delivered. It's no good merely sampling the first minute or so of each song - one feels compelled to stay in the world to reach the conclusion of each story.

Image © Sara Dennis

The majority of the songs feature Sara on Ukulele with a selection of guest musicians contributing to various tracks, namely:

Dave Brunskill - guitar and harmonica
Mimi O'Malley - clarinet
Simon Stephenson - guitar
Dave Edmunds - cello
Richard Sykes - electric guitar and keyboards
Morag Brown - violin
Milo Thelwall - violin

Emily Said is the exception; a purely solo piece, with Sara on vocals and piano.

I enjoyed the extra instruments, whether they were the guitars driving the songs or the subtler touches of clarinet and cello, deepening the sound and adding texture to the whole musical experience.

Track list

  1. Wish You Were Here
  2. The Crying Song
  3. Matty Groves
  4. Driftwood
  5. A Ballad of Swords and Shields
  6. Emily Said
  7. Blackwaterside
  8. Lost Times
  9. Frozen Charlotte
  10. The Black Middens (Low Lights, Low)
  11. Like Butterflies
No fewer than eight of the 11 songs are entirely Sara's own compositions. The exceptions are Matty Groves (traditional arrangement, Sara Dennis/Dave Brunskill), Blackwaterside (traditional arrangement, Sara Dennis) and Lost Times (Gavin Wood).

Dave Brunskill

Mimi O'Malley (with Ray Legg and Andy Broderick)

All of the songs are engaging and thoughtful. For me, the stand-out songs for me are Wish You Were Here, The Crying Song, Emily Said and Like Butterflies.

Anybody who has seen Sara at one of her ever-growing number of gigs definitely needs to get hold of a copy of Driftwood. Sara is on top form throughout as she delivers each and every one of the 11 songs. Newcomers to Sara's music will find this an ideal place to start. I know for sure there's going to be a lot more to come from this indefatigable musician so it's a good time to start following Sara's career.

Image © Sara Dennis

Further details about Driftwood can be found on Sara's website and the album is also available from itunes.

Sara and Dave Brunskill
Keep an eye on Sara's live dates. If you are based in North East England then the chances are she will be appearing at a venue near you soon. We have a new interview with Sara in the pipeline plus an announcement about another very special event for Autumn, so stay tuned.

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