This Is My Letter to the World CD - Hand/Eye

This is a quirky little album, the debut release from San Francisco's Sarah Weathers, who trades under the nom de disque Sarah June, and does everything heard here herself. This Is My Letter to the World, apart from referencing the poets Emily Dickinson and Gwendolyn Brooks (and, unexpectedly, Elvis), works at merging the musical concerns of such free folk purveyors as Joanna Newsom and Dawn McCarthy, with the deeply echoed ethereal pools of, say, The Hope Blister or eighties-era Harold Budd. Opener "We Lurk Late" sets the mood, all spectral keys supporting a gothic ethos and quoting at times from a Brooks poem. The ensuing "Dial Tone" is so similar in melody to the opener, with the keys largely replaced by a finger-picked acoustic guitar, that Sarah June is in danger of losing the listener. Still, an unnamable something pulls one further into the disc, to generally favorable effect. "If You'll Be Nice" is a skittering slice of Appalachian folk, too brief I think, at 1:45, to quite come together. The standout track is "Radio Wave," the minimalist synths of which are fairly menacing. "I am a radio wave... I am a ghostly girl," Weathers whisper-croons with a detached cool that chills the marrow, and you can't help but believe her. There are two covers. The Creatore/Peretti/Weiss standard "Can't Help Falling in Love," originally penned for and made famous by Elvis Presley, which is oddly effective in this setting. In fact, Weathers' may be my favorite reading of this song. The other cover, which closes the album, is of Prince Rogers Nelson's "When Doves Cry." While not topping Prince's original, it does have a wistful peacefulness that The Purple One merely hinted at in 1984. Full disclosure: Let me say that on first hearing this disc, I was entirely put off by Weathers' voice, a little girl whimper and sigh that seemed overly affected and just this side of unacceptable. However, spending a little more time with This Is My Letter to the World has led me to conclude that it is fitting for these proceedings; I have warmed to it, although I don't believe I can ever love it. Perhaps this is the real Joanna Newsom link.

By Michael Meade



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