Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Sarah J Show

Typically I listen to hard rock/heavy metal/whatever you wish to call it. To prove it, if you asked me to list three bands I consider amongst my favorites (in no particular order) I’d most likely say Disturbed, Lacuna Coil, and Five Finger Death Punch. Sometimes, though, I want to listen to something different, something not so harsh. I’ve even been known to queue up guitar concertos, orchestral music, or even a little Enya, depending on my mood or activity.

I also have to admit, I really don’t buy CDs anymore, mainly because I subscribe to Slacker Radio these days, so don’t really see much point. Recently, though, I bought a pair of CDs from my friend Sarah J. One, to support a talented up-and-coming artist, and two because, well, she’s not on Slacker Radio (although she should be). The two CDs are “Before I Burn” by Sarah’s former band Ophir Drive, and her solo CD “Happier”. Sarah’s music, both solo and as a part of OD, also satisfies that need to hear some music that doesn’t make my ears bleed; music that has some soul to it.

I first met Sarah when she and my fianceĆ© were both working at a non-profit organization in Fayetteville, NC. We had the pleasure of hearing Sarah perform at a local coffee shop - just Sarah and her acoustic guitar. At the time, Sarah was married to a soldier, who got orders to relocate to Columbus, GA. We were sad to see our friend go and that we wouldn’t get to see her perform as much. But evidently moving to Columbus was just the ticket she needed to kick off her music career.

Sarah had already been performing and recording under the name Ophir Drive for a few years (to that point, I also own her previous CDs ‘Breakthrough’, ‘Hamonic Half Life’, and ‘Tunneling’, all released under the name Ophir Drive and which I was able to procure when she was still in Fayetteville, NC). In Columbus, however, Ophir Drive became a full blown band when Sarah joined forces with Jon Edwards (guitar) and Matt Austin (bass). Together they became a pretty popular touring group around the southeast region. They also recorded a CD - “Before I Burn”.
”Before I Burn”, frankly, rocks! Sarah’s powerful vocals (which have been compared to Janis Joplin), backed by Jon’s skillful guitar riffs make this album not only rock, but rock with passion, soul, and heart. You can hear their love for music in every song. They’re not doing this to become famous (ok, maybe they are a little bit); they play because it’s who they are. Their music is a part of them, and it shows.

After three years together, Ophir Drive split and went their separate ways. Sarah recorded “Happier” as a solo album and performs on her own as The Sarah J Show. If her vocals during her stint with Ophir Drive could be compared to Janis Joplin, her solo work can easily be compared to Tori Amos. It’s all piano, acoustic guitar, and Sarah’s soulful voice wound up in songs that evoke emotions to make you both laugh and cry. She proves she’s not “just a singer”. She’s an artist, both vocally and musically.

These days Sarah resides and performs in New York City, but she’s also done gigs in Los Angeles. And she’s been featured in Billboard. Yep, one of these days I’ll be able to say “I knew her when...” as she tours the world and hangs gold and platinum albums on her studio walls... but I’m still pissed she didn’t do a gig in Atlanta before moving from GA to NY *wink*.

I’ll admit, I don’t know the first thing about writing a music review (which is why this is a blog post and not an article in Rolling Stone), but I know what I like, and I really like Ophir Drive and Sarah J. I hate to admit that I haven’t had the time to listen to either CD enough to give you a breakdown of each tune, but I’ve listened enough to tell you you should go buy them both. If you contact Sarah through her website, I think she still has a few copies of “Before I Burn” available. “Happier” on the other hand is sold out (I got the last one), but it is available on iTunes. Do it... Do it now!!

~ JC 
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