Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon (Sonic Cathedral)

Tucek's new record will get people talking about her once more for all the right reasons.

Released Apr 4th, 2011 via Sonic Cathedral / By Melanie McGovern
Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon (Sonic Cathedral) Born in Miami and growing up in New York, Sarabeth Tucek's career has careened through the exceptional - her talents as a musician first landing her backing vocals on Smog's album Supper, before going on to release her debut single 'Something for You' and self-titled LP. Threatened by a problematic past her successes were overshadowed in the wake of her well received eponymous debut, by struggles with drinking that consequently resulted in car crashes, bouts in jail and legal issues. Quite a past for someone set to release their follow up, but one that perhaps couldn't exist in such a form of solitary self-observation otherwise.

Get Well Soon may not be what one could deem a concept album, however there is a common theme tying the threads of stories both real and envisaged together. Recorded after, and in response to the death of her father, she describes it as "an impressionistic rendering of a time ruled by grief" with the flow of tracks culminating in a mental and emotional transition towards recovery, concluded in the title and closing track 'Get Well Soon'.

With understated production supporting these intimate, deeply personal songs, Tucek moves from the mildly grungy, country tinged guitar riffs of 'Wooden', echoing an early Neil Young, to piano ballads ('Things Left Behind'), which allow her rich voice to soar above the instrumentation, often as powerful and ponderous as Natalie Merchant. While in other instances it hovers and swells with the lyrical climaxes on the album closer, depicting a former self, "underweight, in the street, hot with grief", each syllable underpinned by its own honesty.

In addition literary references add to the breadth of knowledge the LP holds. 'Exit Ghost', was taken from the title of a Philip Roth novel, which he in turn borrowed from a Shakespearean stage direction for Hamlet, and too is a relevant nod to physical absence. Its layers of gauzy electric guitar chord progressions and post-rock elements flesh out this moody emptiness, coupling it with the muffled vocal introspection of Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval and her plaintive pronouncements. If for nothing else however, Tucek should be recognised for her unclothed style of storytelling: 'The Fireman' tells the tale of an inverse nightmare, "I had a dream/You and I were side by side...remember you have no father", the first explicit hint to her particular situation, while repeated imagery and scenes of near death are vividly, chillingly visualised later: "the screams of an ambulance that whispered 'it's an accident'".

With the recording taking place in a basement over the course of a few weeks, the starkness of theme has been captured as if in a vacuum, with much of what is uttered a fluid stream of crystal clear self-awareness, feeling to the listener as if it has been felt by the performer for the first time.

Get Well Soon is both a cathartic and sobering listen, but too it leaves a sense of hope, and promise for a talented artist given a second lease of life.