My favorite album of 2011
You Call That Brave was my favorite album of 2011 and I'm glad to see that it has made its way to iTunes.
For the most part, there are only three instruments at play on You Call That Brave—Sarah Fridrich’s piano, Sarah Fridrich’s voice, and Daniel Marcellus’ drums. The albums final song, “Borrow Love,” also features Gary Prince on guitar.
Can three instruments support an album?
Yes. Especially when they are as skilled as they are on You Call That Brave.
Sonically speaking, this is a big album. Full. Robust. Whoever recorded this turned the right knobs. The piano, at its more aggressive turns has the feel of a freight train barreling down the tracks. When it needs to be subdued, it is sparse and delicate, but never weak. The drums are likewise captured. Marcellus’ evokes the feel of an old school jazz player--relying on touch, buried in the pocket, and finished with these great fills that complement everything so well. Again, the recording is so good. The snare is crisp. The hi-hat and cymbal work are at just the right place in the mix.
These two elements alone make the album worth getting.
But we haven’t even gotten to the voice.
Sarah Fridrich has an amazing voice (best display might be “Anvil” especially starting at 2:27, one of the favorite bits of song in my whole music collection). It is a confident and earnest voice with range. But then it gets doubled and tripled up in harmonies and it becomes something otherworldly. It wasn’t until I had listened to the album for the tenth time that I realized just how powerful the harmonies were and how they made songs sound fuller than the work of four piece rock bands.
There are no weak spots in this album, but if you need to dip your toe first before diving in, here are three essential songs from You Call That Brave:
(1) “Hearts Intact”
(2) “The Bills”
Here are some other albums/musicians that I’d call musical kin to You Call That Brave/Ms. Fridrich:
(1) Fiona Apple’s When the King…
(2) The Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer (another example of drums/piano working well)
(3) Yael Naim (admittedly I only know the song “New Soul”)