Review: Sargent – Sargent

September 2016 is set to see the release of the debut album from Sargent. The eponymously named album is a mesmerizing eight track album by singer and songwriter, Gretchen Lieberum. She has collaborated with Jake Blanton to create musical genius, captivating listeners with unique sounds, hypnotic vocals and emotionally fuelled lyrics.

Prior to the Lieberum and Blanton partnership, Gretchen was known to many as an American Jazz singer and songwriter. As well as her solo musical ventures, Lieberum coupled with her school friend, Maya Rudolph, to start a Prince Tribute band called Princess. The band performed on TV shows and was even joined by The Roots on one occasion! After this success, Gretchen created Sargent, yet 2016 is to be the debut of their hard work; pregnancy, touring with other bands and the passing away of loved ones delayed the band’s continuation of this album, until now.

Before the album had been set for release, the opening track ‘Echo Hill, was released in order to grab the attention of many within the music industry and stir up public interest around the world. The track has an element of loneliness and solitude which resonates throughout the entire piece; the title points to a hill where echoes are the only company. This, coupled with poignant lyrics such as ‘walking these lonely streets […] no one’s around […] on this empty echo hill’, clearly show the almost saddening underlying theme. The lyrical aspect of Sargent’s music is definitely where the emotions are displayed at their finest. In terms of musicality, this track highlights the effectiveness of simplicity. Beginning with a repeating six-note run up on a synthesiser, the track is then layered with vocals, piano chords and an uncomplicated counter-melody. As the listener is not distracted by a bombardment of heavy instrumental accompaniment, we are left to truly appreciate the emotion of the lyrical section. However, towards the end of the track, the vocals are removed, allowing listeners to equally appreciate the instrumental features of ‘Echo Hill’.

The rest of the tracks have a similar hypnotic feel. The track ‘Miracles and Light’, however, incorporates an increased percussion section and leans heavily towards an emotional rock piece in the second half, giving a sense of variety to the album. Heavy drumming beats, symbol crashes and louder vocals lift the mood, contrasting it to the beginning. Various lyrics in the song, for example, ‘But I won’t go on with a heavy heart’, help to enlighten listeners with a sense of optimism. Although the tempo is consistent throughout, the increased level of instrumental accompaniment in the second half adds to the overall musicality and tricks listeners into thinking it is a quicker, more upbeat rhythmic section.

Sargent’s debut album is set to hit the stage on the 16th September 2016 – and its assured success will most certainly lead to more mesmerising albums from Lieberum and Blanton. 

Emma Humphrey

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