Sarah Slean

Blue Parade

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    8
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Consistently wavering between a handful of potent piano-led ballads and some tastefully arranged, mid-tempo rockers, Slean's debut full-length immediately recalls the early work of another gifted pianist/songwriter, Tori Amos. Like Amos before her, Slean exhibits both a knack for the occasional obtuse (almost surrealist) couplet and an obvious predilection toward some weightier thematic content. But yet, in spite of the fact that this is an introspective, piano-heavy pop record, Blue Parade rarely sounds derivative. Slean may tread Amos' territory (the lyrical bent of opener "Playing Cards With Judas" is instantly reminiscent of Amos' "God"), but she brings enough heartfelt zeal and wide-eyed genuineness to the proceedings that it doesn't matter. Combine that with the devastating pop sensibilities of standouts like "Bonnie's Song," "Eliot," and "Blue Parade" and (even in spite of its similarities) this is a very difficult record to dislike.

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