Volume 95, Issue 11

Wednesday, September 19, 2001
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Big Wreck enjoys the greedy pleasures of fame

Q-Burns Abstract Magic: makin' DJs play Britney

Sarah Slean: a drunk, old woman

Welch's voice a Timeless entity

Sarah Slean: a drunk, old woman

France and happiness inspires a new sound

By Andrea Chiu
Gazette Staff

Sarah Slean could have been a cheerleader in a past life.

It's not that she's a ditz, she simply speaks with an energy that contradicts the tortured musician stereotype. She is well-spoken and insists she was an old French woman before she was Sarah Slean, the piano-playing, singer-songwriter.

"I've kind of been obsessed with France lately. I actually went this April and I really brought a lot of that [to the album]. Around the time that we were recording, I was really into studying French painters and I was painting a lot," Slean explains.

"I read this book called Good Morning Midnight by a woman named Jean Rhys and it was about a woman stumbling drunk around Paris. That really inspired a lot of music in me and I wrote a song, 'Book smart, street stupid,' in the studio."

The fresh sound is evident in her newest songs, though she admits it's not a style she has accomplished on her own. Working with the sometimes dramatic, but always creative, Hawksley Workman has pushed Slean to create a more theatrical sound.

"Hawksley's bravado sort of amplified [my French influences] and made me a little braver. Also, I'm at a happier point in my life, my voice has loosened up and I'm a lot less uptight about singing. These factors combined contribute to the new sound," Slean explains.

Graham Kennedy
"I USED TO BE AN OLD FRENCH WOMAN." Sarah Slean visits Centennial Hall with Sarah Harmer tonight. The show begins at 8 p.m.

Since shedding her independent skin, Slean will now release her music on the record label Atlantic/Warner's terms. Her latest offering has actually been done since April, but has yet to be released. While she may miss some aspects of the freedom and control being an Indie artist allows, Slean isn't complaining.

"Indie is like, you make the record when you want and how you want. Of course, there are limitations as far as budgets and stuff like that, but you call all the shots and then when you're finished the record, you can put it out, like the minute it's pressed. Whereas being on a label, you can't really do that," she explains.

"At the same time, I've gotten to have the strings and the horns that I've always wanted to have on my recordings. I got to have a great engineer and got to go to a really great studio."

Sarah Slean's career transition from independent to major label, is similar to many of her fellow Canadian music makers. Although she's still relatively early in her major label life, one might say she could have the same success another Canadian Sarah has had, since she made the jump to major label status: Sarah Harmer.

Slean and Harmer have previously toured together. But instead of playing a show at the smaller Whippet Lounge, like the last time they were both in London, the two share tonight's bill at the much larger Centennial Hall.

Harmer's success is indicative of her hard work and her career path is one Slean would love to mirror.

"She did it really grassroots. She did it simply by playing, getting out there and just trucking along. She toured for so long and just kept at it," Slean says. "That's really awesome – I think that's the way to go."

Only time will tell what the future holds for Sarah Slean.

Perhaps she'll be a cheerleader in her next life, or a marine biologist or an old man at a gas station? Those guesses are a little too far into the future. However, don't be surprised to hear more of Slean, when her album is released in January.

There's a good chance she'll be the next musical 'Sarah' Canadians will be proud to boast about.

Sarah Slean opens for Sarah Harmer tonight at Centennial Hall. Tickets are $18.50 and doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 2001