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Land & Sea

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Album Review

Sarah Slean, a songwriter who has proceeded at her own pace in her career, releasing EPs when full-length albums might have been expected, cutting independent discs even after signing on with a major, seems to have decided that the time finally was ripe to swing for the fences in 2011 with her sprawling Land & Sea, an 18-song epic album that addresses big themes. It also employs more vibrant, driving music than has been typical for her, at least on the first, Land, half. Here, she plays pop/rock music, still arranged around her piano, but taking a distinctly uptempo approach. That approach serves the sometimes biting, if often abstract, observations in her lyrics. The ambitions are clear in titles like "The Day We Saved the World" and "Set It Free," just as a caustic view of contemporary society is expressed in "Everybody's on TV" (which refers to "the movie of our vanity") and "Society Song" ("I'm glad I don't belong"). In the midst of such broad strokes, however, Slean can paint specific, emotional portraits such as that in "I Am a Light" ("All I can dream about is how to make you smile"). She is no less ambitious in the album's second Sea half, beginning with "Cosmic Ballet," although the rock elements disappear in favor of symphonic arrangements. Here, Slean becomes more conciliatory, notably in songs like "You're Not Alone" and "The One True Love," even as she continues to encourage grand emotions and widescreen expressions. "Throw your heart into the ocean," she tells her listener in "The Right Words." Even if her reach at times seems to exceed her grasp, she is saved from pretentiousness in this lengthy, sometimes overwrought effort by the depth of feeling she evidences and by her ability to take on the universe while never losing sight of the importance of the personal within the cosmic. That makes Land & Sea a big statement that has some small concerns, too.

Customer Reviews

A Masterpiece

Sarah Slean has consistently been churning out one perfect album after another since the beginning of her career. This time, she has created two. "Land" is an uptempo record that dabbles in pop, rock, soul, and even a little jazz. Meanwhile, "Sea" is an ethereal collection of songs that soar with full orchestral arrangements. In both discs, Sarah explores themes of love, loss, rivalry, tyranny, social politics, and the Great Unknown. Her songwriting is unparalleled in contemporary pop music and her musicianship is constantly daring to outdo itself. Land & Sea may be Sarah Slean's magnum opus.

Splendid Encompassed

Simply, it is a breathtaking journey. Her use of music for Land Sea's arrangements demonstrate her ability to navigate the copmlexities of not only themes but also schemas of light, heavy, dark and uplifting.

Truly, after ten years of making music, and after ten years of following her career, I am proud to say that she has yet to fail me. This is an amazing duel disc - two discs that work magnificently well.

Society Song and Napoleon are amazing stand outs this time around.

Lots of love Sarah! Lots of Love.

Sarah Slean - Land & Sea

I can honestly that Sarah has done it again. Just when you think "How can she possibly top her last work?", she just does. Her music is simply inspiring. I needed this today. Thank you, Ms Slean!


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

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...
Full bio
Land & Sea, Sarah Slean
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  • $13.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Rock
  • Released: Sep 27, 2011

Customer Ratings