An alternative singer and songwriter with a certain cabaret flair to her delivery, Sarah Slean first appeared on the Toronto live circuit in 1997. The release of her independent debut EP, Universe, followed soon afterward. Already an accomplished classically trained pianist, the Pickering, Ontario native pursued her studies in the music program at the University of Toronto while gradually carving out a name for herself as a charismatic, ebullient live performer.
When a number of relatively high-profile opening stints helped Slean sell over 4,000 copies of Universe, the major labels soon came knocking. After much deliberation and a reported bidding war, Slean eventually struck a joint deal with Warner Canada and Atlantic in the U.S. The unorthodox pact allowed Slean to release a full-length independent album before her contract kicked in; the resulting record (1999's Blue Parade, released independently on Big Brother, her own label) showcased Slean's significant maturation as a songwriter. When coupled with her wistful delivery, Slean's contemplative, piano-led pop drew comparisons to the work of artists like Tori Amos and, to a lesser extent, Sarah McLachlan.
After another slew of live shows, including a living-room tour with Tory Cassis, Slean retreated to a New York studio to record her long-awaited major-label debut. The Sarah Slean EP arrived on Atlantic in the summer of 2001, with the full-length Night Bugs following a year later. Her third LP, 2004's Day One, was issued internationally by Warner, which also issued the live album Orphan Music in late 2006. Her next studio album, The Baroness, came out in the first half of 2008 and was followed that December by an EP called The Baroness Redecorates, a set of songs that didn't make it onto its predecessor.
She then parted ways with Warner and self-released 2010's Beauty Lives B-Sides, a collection of previously unreleased songs from throughout her career, all newly recorded for the album. A year later, Pheromone Recordings issued her fifth proper studio LP, Land & Sea, a double album conceived in two parts: the poppier Land and more reflective Sea. Slean's four-year marriage to singer/songwriter Royal Wood ended in 2013, and she ran a crowdfunding campaign for her subsequent full-length. Titled Metaphysics, it arrived in the spring of 2017. ~ Mark Pytlik & Marcy Donelson