|The Baroness Redecorates (Source: Amazon)|
The Baroness Redecorates is perfection. I can count the number of records I consider 'perfect' on one hand, and this is always the one that I name first. I remember when I ordered this EP from Canada, the disclaimer on Maple Music said it would arrive in 10 weeks. 9 weeks and 6 days later I received it in the mail - and it did not disappoint. Every track on this album is perfect.
The Baroness Redecorates marked a (celebratory?) parting of ways from Sarah Slean's record label. While my appreciation of The Baroness grows with each listen, I found it to be the slowest of Slean's catalogue. The Baroness Redecorates couldn't be a further departure, and it's jaw-dropping that this outstanding collection of tracks were considered B-Sides. The result, however, is a brilliant 30 minute EP which literally never leaves my collection.
The album is beautifully meditative and reflective at times, and wild and upbeat in the remainder. The coquettish 'Parasol' is a tango with a habanera flavoured rhythm paired with hysterical musings, and in a similar vein 'Compatriots' is a frantic number of bristling city life. The slower numbers are beautiful - 'The Lonely Side of the Moon' and 'Modern Man I & II' are wistful and evoke a feeling of longing and wanderlust. The best track of the album (which shifts to any given track on any given listen) might be 'The Rose'. This remarkable piece is at once sorrowful and celebratory, an ineffably beautiful reflection about how all life in the world must end.
The lyrics are scintillating, sparkling with wit and originality. A lot of this comes from the fact that these songs are not constricted to the theme of love - they're refreshingly abstract themes such as life, environment and trust.
Instrumentation is almost entirely piano and strings, with the strings in particular - all of which are written, arranged and conducted by Slean - being superb. They circumnavigate the melodies to embellish them, but when needed they suddenly descend into passages which are heavenly, dramatic or even becoming a piece in themselves. The album includes Slean's first string quartet, a 6 minute movement called 'The "Disarm" Suite' which concludes the album as the perfect encapsulation of what we've experienced.
TL;DR - this is the best album I've ever heard and owned. An absolutely outstanding record created by a vastly under-rated and unappreciated artist.
'The Baroness Redecorates' by Sarah Slean is available digitally on iTunes and Amazon.com, and is also available on Spotify & physical CD.