Sarah Mary Chadwick — The Queen Who Stole the Sky (Apr. 19, 2019) Sarah Mary Chadwick — The Queen Who Stole the Sky (Apr. 19, 2019)Pamela MÃÃÃÃÃÃéndez ÃÃÃÃÃâ Time (22 Feb 2019)♦»      The prolific Sarah Mary Chadwick returns with ‘The Queen Who Stole The Sky’, an album performed and recorded live on Melbourne Town Hall’s 147 year~old grand organ.
Location: Colingwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Album release: April 19, 2019
Record Label: Rice Is Nice/Heavy Machinery (AUS)/Sinderlyn Records (US/EU)
Genre: Indie, Alternative
Duration:     42:45
01. Confetti   4:45
02. Kesey Peasy   3:10
03. Hurtle Through It   3:34
04. Anniversary   3:47
05. Just Came To Pray   5:38
06. On The Make   2:42
07. Next In Line   4:25
08. Make Plans   3:42
09. The Queen Who Stole The Sky   4:02
10. Pretend Lover   2:56
11. Something So Sweet   4:04
Sarah Mary Chadwick: The Queen Who Stole The Sky review — a terrifyingly loud masterwork.
Shaad D’Souza
Fri 12 Apr 2019 04.34 BST. Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
♦»   Chadwick’s live album is heartbreakingly vulnerable and its sense of pure catharsis is unparalleled.
♦»   To play a grand organ is to be engulfed — by sound, by engineering, by sheer might. The grand romantic organ installed at the Melbourne Town Hall, the largest in the southern hemisphere, features nearly 10,000 pipes and 552 keys.
♦»   Its scale is staggering, and hearkens to a time when music was less a precious commodity and more a fact of life, when hearing air forced through pipes was simply an effective way to feel closer to God, rather than art. Sitting before one of the instruments, an organist casts a disarmingly lonely image — consumed by the scale of it all, subsumed by the grandeur.
♦»   That was certainly the image cast by Melbourne~via~New Zealand musician Sarah Mary Chadwick when, shrouded in pink and blue light, she performed The Queen Who Stole The Sky, an original 11~song composition written specifically for the Town Hall’s grand organ.
♦»   Chadwick, who usually performs with a guitar or hunched over a keyboard, and whose brackish voice tends to draw attention away from her arrangements, rarely seems diminutive in performance or on record; beneath the weight of the organ, she is an ant. The scale turns out to be fitting. Because The Queen Who Stole The Sky uses the terrifying might of the ancient instrument as a counterpoint for a series of stunning meditations on sheer normalcy, and the beige~tinted terror of everyday life.
♦»   In early highlight Hurtle Through It, she intones that “You forget that we’re all hurtling through it”. Life is hard, she seems to say, but life is hard for everyone.
♦»   At last year’s Town Hall performance, Chadwick introduced the album as a set of songs “for anyone who wanted more than what life had to offer them” — and that description is fitting. Chadwick is fond of grand turns of phrase — her last record carried the beautifully melodramatic title Sugar Still Melts In The Rain — but on The Queen Who Stole The Sky, those kinds of poetic, sweeping lyrics are tempered with crushing mundanity.
♦»   Opener Confetti finds Chadwick listing similes for her being — she is like the smudge on a page after you rub out a pencil drawing, like confetti but not as bright, like the dark but not at night — that are uncannily, upsettingly flat. At the same time, the organ soars and expands. It threatens to consume Chadwick’s voice, which is already straining to something of a yell. Many of the songs on this release make you feel terrifyingly inert; the drone of the organ has an almost paralysing effect, and Chadwick’s lyrics, more often than not, convey a sense of searching for something that perhaps isn’t really there.
♦»   As a result, The Queen Who Stole The Sky is Chadwick’s most plangent, resonant work. While all her past records have been result of the strength of her intent and talent, there’s something shocking about the austere composition of this album that feels as if it’s coagulated Chadwick’s vision into a ferocious, arresting whole. The Queen Who Stole The Sky is rarely an easy listen — it is terrifyingly loud and heartbreakingly vulnerable, often grotesque in its sadness — but the sense of pure catharsis it elicits is unparalleled.
♦»   Personal suffering is often privileged in art. Throughout this record Chadwick challenges this by outlining suffering and then minimising or rationalising it. On the song Next In Line, she spins fairy tale fantasies about romance before shattering them.
♦»   “I never had a man around to love me,” she sings over the organ’s drone, before adding, almost like a hastily added post~script, “Having said that, there’s no amount of love could fill me, so I keep working through the line.” It’s romance imagined as construction line, one of life’s great mysteries skewed, dismembered and vacuum~sealed.
♦»   Towards the end of the album, on the record’s title track, Chadwick makes peace with life’s dull edges. “Sometimes there will be tears, I’ll have good years and bad years,” she concedes, “I’ll have friends and have no friends, love will start and love will end.” It’s something of a Pyrrhic victory — after an album of trying to rationalise mundane struggle and find something beyond it, we’re told there’s little to be found. Considering the product of that victory, though, it’d be hard to ask for more.
Interview: Words by Jenny Valentish —