This, Sandi Thom’s fourth album is full of emotions with the roots embedded in the soil of quality music, the trunk being Country the leaves are full of soul with branches of soul creating a canopy of emotions delivering a mainstream and accessible sound.
Opening with Help Me guitar intro and Sandi’s voice in anguished wail, then as the vocals start some wonderful piano creating a soulful sound that is raw to the bone. From the beginning the accomplished production by Rich Robinson is evident there is as Sandi says “We had a real synergy …. I just had to start from scratch.” This is an album where there is an edge to every track where you are immersed in the emotional journey on which Sandi and you as the listener are taken; which works whether played on random or as the tracks laid down on Flesh and Blood, and you will stop and listen whenever a track appears on your play list.
The album has been produced around the combination of Sandi’s distinctive, potent vocals and her skills as a songwriter as every note and the words are measured and flow the lyrics and instrumentation act together in a harmonious partnership as seen on I Owe You Zero, the intro is metronomic drumming and the singing country blues a wonderful amalgamation with lyrics “I cried more you cried less, and I paid my debt in loneliness, So I owe you zero” show the pain and desolation of the moment. The title track has an upbeat feel with a gentle voice from Sandi but is full of the Thom emotional lexicon that she can shape her voice around, as the feet get tapping and you immerse yourself into the swell of the sound.
This is an album where every track has a different structure and story to tell The Pines a rock-pop song with a twist of the psychedelic more Nirvana than Leadbelly who was the first to record as Sandi says she found the track via her love of Nirvana as a kid and is a wonderful rendition and shows how great music can be re-told over and over again so hats off to the unknown author of this track that suited Sandi’s expressive vocals so well.
Then half way through the album the centre-piece and for me the best of the rest Big Ones Get Away duet with Buffy Sainte-Marie who originally sung this song. This is a song delivered with passion and sensitivity you just want to listen to again.
Every track has it strengths and there are no tracks that you wonder why they were included, this is an album that distils a variety of genres to create a sound that is Sandi Thom and suits her styles and Rise As One with acoustic slide guitar is foot tapping blues with a country edge too easily dumped into Americana but it is a song strong on beat, protest and strong lyrics the clapping of hands work well in the background shut your eyes and you just know how it works live. I Love a Lunatic change of tempo with an electric sound and her voice gentle as she develops this ballad she is a great teller of a story and Save Some Mercy For Me is another track that is a turbo charged emotional roller-coaster.
This is an album crammed with superb music, poignant and passionate song writing from Sandi Thom who has distilled a gamut of emotions we can all empathise with into twelve tracks of GOOD MUSIC.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….