Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sarah Blackwood

Punk rock by its very definition is not mainstream and if one examines it Punk is much like pork (the Other White Meat) thus punk is the "other type of music".  But how can that be true?  Punk gave us cutting edge bands like the Clash, Ramones and the Sex Pistols and those bands have been the influence of thousands of bands and some of those bands gave us some really amazing music.  Can punk still be the cutting edge for music, or is it really the "other type of music"?  To find out, I entered the realm of "The Creepshow", but more importantly, "Sarah Blackwood".

Sarah Blackwood is not what one might think of as the prototypical punk rocker (or is that stereotypical).  Blackwood is drop dead beautiful, she has a musical range that dwarfs most of the others within her genre and she tries to make music that will make people want to listen, and will make them want to continue to listen.  Punk rock has never been accused (outside the genre) as being any of those and despite all of that, she has created a sidebar of her music that rivals almost anything I have heard previously.

As you the reader can tell I'm sure, I am a punk rock fan (astronomically huge fan) but I try to remain diverse in all of my music choices, so as I was digging up "The Creepshow" material on YouTube, I discovered the side project of Blackwood.  I began to filter through the YouTube stuff and by the time the first song I listened too was over (My Mistake Baby Boy), I was hooked.

I so enjoy the discovery phase of these bands, but as I leafed through the YouTube "catalog" of Sarah Blackwood, it became evident that I was far from the one that "discovered" her.  What a wonderful task it is to listen to the music of a performer and not have any preconceived notions of said performer, I mean I was listening to "The Creepshow" so what I found was like that last cookie in a package, I loved every last little bit.

Unlike that cookie, there was more for me to listen too, and in fact it became self-evident that Blackwood is more than that punker, she is so much more.  If you told me that a punk rock star was going to make the jump to country music I would tell you that you were out of your mind.  In the goo that is my brain I would have almost bet everything that making said jump would be like Sid Vicious when he sang "My Way" (I shudder at the thought).  As has been established multiple times, I was wrong, Blackwood takes her place in the annals of country music because she is damned good.

As I listened to the twenty songs I found on YouTube I realized that there wasn't a song I wouldn't claim was in any way bad, in fact I would dare to say that the genre of country music is better because she is performing such music.  Her music runs the gauntlet of country music while using the darker side that is punk (occasionally) but if you aren't looking for it, you won't find it.

Blackwood's vocals have a deep feel to them, with the deep sultry sounds of Alannah Myles and Patsy Cline mixed with the brash sound of Tanya Tucker and the sophistication of Natalie Merchant.  The simple acoustic sound mixed with those vocals are masterful, and ladies and gentlemen I will tell you that her musical range (at least in my opinion) is unmatched by current female performers. 

Obviously performers like Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill are icons in the realm of country music, but I would venture a guess that neither of those ladies could switch from the world of punk rock to country as seamlessly as Sarah Blackwood does.  Punk rock has a violence to it, the lyrics reflect angst or social hybrids of the problems of the listener while trying to sound intelligent and playing their instruments to a level that challenges any huge rockstar.  Punk rock is a realm that few can successfully perform in, it is also a realm that once engrained into the genre is difficult (if not nearly impossible) to escape from and the list of those that have is limited.  It is doubtful that Underwood and Hill could ever perform in that world, but Blackwood does it in a fashion that can put those to amazing performers to shame.

Country music, much like punk rock has been accused of being unintelligent, with subject matter that is finite and has the sophistication of a barefoot, overalls wearing man playing cello in the New York Philharmonic.  While the arguments can be attempted to prove such falsehoods, I can assure you that neither form of music fits into the stereotypes.  What Sarah Blackwood has done is take her skill, moxy and talent and created a level of music that should be looked at as the art it is.

Sarah Blackwood is a beautiful, intelligent, punk rocker that has seamlessly carved her own niche into the world of country music.  Blackwood can and has done what many cannot, she has created the ultimate weapon against the stereotypical punk and country performer.  In my humble opinion, this brand of music and this performer are what we all need to add to our music libraries.  We should lose the labels of punk / country performers (I've been bad, I've done it throughout) and instead we should give Sarah Blackwood the simple label of Star.

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