Sarah Àlainn #7: One

After a long and painful wait, Sarah Àlainn released her latest album One this friday, and it’s been running on repeat pretty much since. The physical album is still unavailable on import sites, so I grabbed it off Itunes in the meantime.

While I yet haven’t been able to import the La Diva album where Sarah sang with three others, I’m assuming that this is the same version from there. I can understand why everyone wants to make their own version of ”Bohemian Rhapsody”, possibly the greatest song ever written. Sarah sings the ballad parts beautifully without necessarily mimicking Freddie’s vocals, and the arrangement is slightly more classical in style rather than the rock opera of Queen. However, the mid section is ridiculous and only Queen can make it ridiculous in the right way. So the result is an epic, beautiful ballad with a rather silly part in the middle.

I hadn’t heard the new ”Speechless” from the live-action Aladdin, but it’s exactly the kind of song I love from Sarah. Her vocals work perfectly with typical musical songs like this. There’s a sweet violin part too, which is to be expected from her. The crescendo through the second verse is fantastic, and the bridge to the violin is powerful.

Having dealt with Queen, Sarah next takes on ABBA with ”The Winner Takes It All”. It’s an interesting take, too, making it into a dramatic, slower piano ballad where she sings her heart out, with some powerful flourishes. After that, ”Spain” is a rather sudden shift into live big band jazz. There are some extremely quick phrases and Sarah is basically just flexing with this. It’s not my style though. The whimsical ”Walking in the Air” is nice, with a fairytale, slightly medieval feeling to it. And in another musical jump, she then takes on the brief futuristic opera ”The Diva Dance” from The Fifth Element. This is another vocal flex, fun but not very substantial.

”Hikoukigumo” is another live recording and the only Japanese language song on this album. I didn’t recognize it at first, but I have indeed heard it since it was used as the title song of Ghibli’s The Wind Rises. It’s a classic piano ballad and another great one. After that follows two movie themes, from Once Upon A Time In The West and Schindler’s List. The latter has some lovely violin playing. And another movie theme is ”Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” with an introduction that I recognize from somewhere but can’t place. I think some Joe Hisaishi theme might be similar. The song itself is lovely too.

The album rounds off with a powerful live rendition of ”My Way”, with smooth and soft sections building to a mighty finale. And after previously taking on Whitney Houston’s ”I Will Always Love You”, and Freddie Mercury on this album, she sets her aim for Pavarotti next with ”Nessun Dorma”, the theme from Puccini’s Turandot, showing that classic opera is also within her capability. And she’s crushing it. One final flex for One.

After listening to One over and over, I think a more fitting name would actually have been My Way. Sarah is an amazing vocalist who is not limited to a single style or genre, and as a result the album is eclectic and somewhat haphazard. But I’m happy to follow along on her way as the quality is always high, and there are several songs that go straight into my already packed playlist of Sarah classics.