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Even if you didn't catch her performances in several episodes of the reality TV series Murder in Small Town X, this Toronto-based singer/songwriter's sound should seem familiar. Her voice has the same sort of earnest, earthy folkiness that made Sarah McLachlan a fan favorite, while her piano ballads evoke obvious comparisons to a less-spacy Tori Amos or a less-angry Fiona Apple. But while her sound may be far from original, Sarah Slean's debut EP shows songwriting talent to spare. The opening "Eliot" is a grand waltz that wouldn't sound out of place on a Rufus Wainwright album, with a dizzying approach to dynamics that makes great use of string crescendos and wailing harmony vocals. "Book Smart, Street Stupid" could be a long-lost Edith Piaf torch ballad, while the stripped-down simplicity of "Me & Jerome" uses ambient atmospheres to shine the spotlight on Slean's nimble piano style and evocative vocals. So maybe she's not exactly reinventing the wheel here, but at least this seven-song set piques your curiosity as to where the singer/songwriter's bandwagon will lead on her full-length debut. And really, what more can you ask of an EP?
|Label:||Elektra / Wea|