A superb five-track EP from the dark and brooding side of Americana.
Sarah King admits herself that she inhabits the dark side of Americana, creating gritty songs with dark, twisted lyrics such as “There’s a darkness reaching for my hand” (from ‘Nightstand’), “What do you say to a man who won’t listen, I don’t want to waste my breath. You say I’m crazy, out of my mind, You ain’t seen anything yet”(from ‘Poison’) and “You say you called the devil yesterday – can you tell me what the old man had to say”(from ‘Cold Hard Ground’).
‘The Hour’ is King’s debut record and at just five tracks, it’s more of an EP than an album. Produced by Simon Felice (ex-Felice Brothers) and David Baron at Sun Mountain Studios in the Catskills, all the songs are self-penned apart from ‘Nightstand’ which is a co-write with Felice and ‘War Pigs’ which was written and originally recorded by Black Sabbath.
The EP starts with the aforementioned ‘Poison’ which opens with a solo piano but soon adds drums and King’s soulful, Loretta Lynne like old school country twang. This is followed by ‘Nightstand’ with its broody, Native American style tom-tom and girl backing vocals that aligned with the menacing lyrics bring a chill to the back of the listener’s neck as the track builds with fuzz guitar and organ making for a very full sound as King conjures up her inner Buffy Saint Marie. Track three ‘Cold Hard Ground’ starts with a gentle, jaunty feel and develops with a Duane Eddy style guitar and eerie girl chorus and morphs into the soundtrack of an imaginary Sergio Leone western. The fourth track ‘Not Worth The Whisky’ starts with whistling, stomping boots and handclaps that are the background for King at her most soulful, almost pleading for recovery from the man who’s not worth the whisky.
The final track, ‘War Pigs’ although not written by King, is the most personal of the five songs. Recorded in just one take at the end of a recording session and featuring just King and an acoustic guitar, it was chosen because of its anti-war lyrics. King had been married to a soldier who committed suicide after suffering from PTSD and King felt guilty that the breakup of the marriage contributed to his demise. It almost didn’t make the cut as Felice and Baron were unsure but the pure rawness and emotion that King puts into her vocals ensure the decision to keep it on the record was the right one.
‘The Hour’ is a superb debut release from Sara King – let’s hope there’s a lot more to come.