Sarah Brooks

What Is My Heart For

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Performing with the sparse instrumental backing of guitar and percussion, vocalist Sarah Brooks offers a set of varied material for her debut album. With master guitarist Joe Beck in tow, there's little need for a lot of musicians. Brooks makes it clear that she is not going to be pigeonholed as a predicable singer. Her "Nature Boy" is not Nat King Cole's, or anybody else's for that matter. Her reading of this song is not soft, but a full-bodied, contemporary, wailing one, urged on by an energetic, tautly amped Beck guitar. Compare this to a softer Beck on a tender "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," done with a bucketful of soul and yearning. These two tunes, as much as any, typify this CD. There is no set musical script, but a concoction with many ingredients that allows the singer to take on tunes from many different areas, and do it successfully and entertainingly. On "What Is My Heart For" there's a hint of contemporary folk, while when she delivers "You Don't Know What Love Is" you know why love is not understandable, "Unless you learn the feeling of the blues/Until you lost the love you had to lose." Brooks' vocal equipment is not pure and clear as a mountain brook. She sometimes overrides the lyrics, using her voice as an instrument or riding on Beck's guitar. No sweetness and modesty here. Her straight-from-the-soul-and-the-heart interpretations of a good set of songs make this a vocal set that will please those who prefer distinctive singers whose styles aren't prissy and sweet, but robustly down to earth. [North Star Music released an edition of the album in 2003 as part of its Discovery series.]

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