WHAT IS IT about these Scandinavian songstresses? With the exception of Bjork – who I can appreciate from a distance, but never feel inclined to get intimate with – there’s something unfailingly lovely about them. And that’s without even seeing a photograph.
Except Sarah Blasko is not. Scandinavian, that is. In fact, she’s a bloody Aussie.
Unfamiliar with Blasko’s previous outings, I sat back and let the chilling sculptural grandeur of the Bulgarian orchestra overwhelm me, quickly scanning the credits and finding a load of difficult-to-pronounce European names, along with the fact that it was recorded in Sweden. And then I heard the voice, a lovely thing that drapes itself longingly, and completely starkers, across the fine curves of the string section.
Anyone expecting I Awake to have conventional pop or rock shapes will be disappointed. Some may find that its blooming orchestrations and its subtle tonal palette of pianos and the occasional ukulele and harp a little bit too refined for their tastes.
It’s certainly an album for a particular frame of mind (lonely and longing), but the great thing is that the mood it strikes is consistent, and holds you in its thrall. And her own songs (and the ones she writes with collaborators) may not end up in the pantheon of standards she has sometimes covered on previous albums (apparently), but that hardly matters, because she’s convincing.
Oh, did I mention that it sounds pretty lush, as well? Now I just have to find a little plastic bag to carefully slide the cover into. It’s so damn white that it’ll get dirty in no time. Just like my mind. GARY STEEL
Music = 4/5
Sound = 4/5