I enjoy sitting in my freezing cold basement listening to music that other people created.
Song after song, over and over again, I drag and rewind, drag and move forward, pondering these creations, these sensations.
Some people like to ski or snowshoe. I like to sit in my basement a lot.
But for some godless reason, the Sarah and The Wild Versatile CD that I was given didn’t take when I popped it in the computer to run it. Just spun round-n-round, aiming at nothing. I spit on the disc, shined it on my thigh, loaded it in slowly again. Still nothing.
Frustrated, I pocketed the CD then shouted up to my 15 year old daughter who was embedded in her softly lit fortress, doing her teenage thing.
“Let’s get coffee, sweet face!” I said when I reached the kitchen. “We’re going for a ride.”
Listening to music while driving trumps any other kind of music listening experience. Sure, the 2 a.m. jaunt through old music videos by Leo Sayer, Tom Petty and The Who can be delightfully sloppy.
But when you can get in a vehicle and cruise around with no game plan and worry about nothing but volume and focus, well, that’s pretty sweet.
In the car, I explained the horrid connection between the disc and the computer to my daughter. She understands structure, the importance of living a dot-to-dot existence. I wanted her to help me listen to this new CD called “Fall Into Grace” by a Boston-based band that played at the Shaskeen Pub in Manchester recently.
Little did I know of this Sarah and the Wild Versatile.
But I looked at the back picture of the CD and saw this young woman with a shiny pinkie ring staring down through her long hair at something only she could see, and I thought of my daughter.
So, with a hot coffee and an iced caramel sugar bomb in hand, we hit Song One and headed toward nowhere.
Crash cymbals chiming, the build-up into “Should’ve Known” worked for the two of us. Lead singer Sarah Seminski arrives with a sensational voice and her five piece band is really tight. My daughter’s face was still in her phone, but I could tell she was listening.
The title track comes on and makes us both think this a completely different act from the previous song. And we like that! The sound is R&B and Sarah is killing it. The 31-year difference in age between my kid and me is significant. I shame her into listening to country artist Sturgill Simpson over Luke Bryan – or is it Bryant? – I truly don’t know and refuse to look it up.
But with “Grace,” we both could listen to this Janis Joplin, ’60s sounding blues beat all day long.
Then on “Sherman’s March,” the minute long build up is dramatic, like the beginning of “Should’ve Known.” Very well played. But we’re having trouble grasping a theme now. Three songs, three different feels.
That’s okay though.
“Sunday Morning” is a return to the R&B, but less Janis and more Faith Evans. Sarah has amazing vocal range that can go from tattered jeans to a shiny cocktail dress. This Sunday morning, she owns the day.
Yes! “Let You Go” has us both locked back in, fully invested in Sarah and the Wild Versatile. The phone is down, my kids head is bobbing naturally. We sipped our drinks and listened to the brilliant guitar work by Eric Reardon and the sensational horn section.
At this point, my daughter is making check marks and notes on the back of the CD next to the songs. I told you, dot-to-dot. She checks one song off, then writes next to the others: pop, ska, jazzy, long intro, show tune . . . phone not in sight.
Then a song called “Kristine” arrives and all hell breaks loose in the hot-rod Camry. This song is all about the pop! Good stuff. The video plays out in our heads, that of a woman pointing and dancing around a crowd of well dressed young Americans, professing her commitment to some fiery love affair.
There is a guitar solo in the song that Slash would envy.
“Fall Into Grace” is a really good mix of songs that could have been the starting point of three different albums, I think. And that’s a good thing. The bluesy voice that Sarah unravels works on so many levels and I would love to hear a full album in that vein. The trumpets and bone and pop is pure gold. The jazz is sleek. Two more Kristine’s and we could really have a party.
“I like them,” my daughter admitted, her face back in her phone. “Are they on Spotify?”
“I don’t know.” I said. “But I better get back to the basement and find out.”
So I did. And then ripped open another CD.
Follow the Wild Versatile on Facebook for upcoming live shows
Rob Azevedo from Manchester is the host of Granite State of Mind on 95.3 FM WMNH Fridays at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m. on WKXL 103.9 FM. He also hosts a monthly series at New England College in Concord which features live performances by artists from around New Hampshire. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org