100 Bands in 100 Days Presented by Verity Credit Union — Day 17: Sarah St. Albin

Please check out Verity Credit Union, our great partner in the 100 Bands in 100 Days local music showcase.

Artwork by Seattle-area painter E.R. Saba

Music fans of the Pacific Northwest, get ready for our fourth annual year-end daily local music showcase, 100 Bands in 100 Days, where every day until December 31st, we’re showcasing a new band or artist you have to know about, presented by Verity Credit Union. Make sure you are checking the #100Bands100Days hashtag at Twitter on the daily to stay on top of all the bands featured and make sure to follow Verity on Twitter and NW_Music_Scene as well. Some days the featured act could be an established and locally-adored northwest-based musician and other times they could be a band with a small following that just hasn’t had their deserved time in the sun yet. Either way, we’re fairly confident you can come away from this daily segment with plenty of new favorites. Today’s featured artist is Sarah St. Albin.  

Sarah St. Albin is a piano pop singer and songwriter based in Seattle, WA. At the piano, her ballads are reminiscent of the emotional and compositional complexity of Tori Amos and the intimate warmth of singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Her first commercial release,
Small Voice (2017), has been described as blending “upbeat and sentimental pop” with “something dark-and-synthy.” Think Fiona Apple meets Sara Bareilles, but Tori won’t let go.

Sarah’s love of music began on a farm outside of eastern Washington where she grew up. She belted songs to her chickens and dreamed of being a pop star. She wasn’t allowed to study music as a kid, but finally started taking classical piano, voice, and guitar lessons at age 14. She wrote her first song about a Spokane teenager who died tragically on a family vacation in Zimbabwe. Even today, much of Sarah’s music stems from sadness, anger, and loss.

In early 2016, while in the middle of graduate school at the University of Washington, Sarah began her career as a professional musician. Since releasing Small Voice on her independent label, Desibelle Entertainment, she assembled a backing band and is taking her sound in a more pop/rock direction. She’s currently working on her next EP (release date TBD).

Recently we reviewed the debut from St. Albin and here’s some of what we said in the review:

Seattle indie-pop, singer-songwriter Sarah St. Albin released her debut EP, Small Voice this past March on her own label, Desibelle Entertainment. Small Voice alludes to domestic abuse victims and the fears and insecurities they face in regards to speaking up about their traumas. Thematically the E.P.’s lyrics deal with overcoming self-doubt, empathy, taking chances and undergoing serious bouts of self-reflection. St. Albin’s debut is a coming of age release and offers hope to those looking to speak out while they’re being silenced.

Opening up with the Tori Amos-esque power ballad, “If I’m Being Honest,” St. Albin offers an apology for anyone facing something they can’t open up about. Her powerful alto laments that “I know it seems like I don’t see the pain across your face” while gentle acoustic guitars, phantom like pianos and alt-country drums back up her vocal. St. Albin offers an empathetic chorus that sounds like someone who’s trying to help a stranger through trauma as if to say, “trust me, I’ve been through it myself.” Dreamy and ethereal guitars welcome in the biting chorus of “if I have to say it I’m not far from hating myself because I knew how you felt the whole time.”

The previous ballad is an excellent lead in to the closing and title track, “Small Voice.”  Beginning with an appropriately icy keyboard, St. Albin sings “breaking glass sounds the same when no one knows what you’re saying.”  A two-step drum beat quickly accompanies the distant keys and St. Albin’s voice, creating a juxtaposition between the sustained keyboard and racing thoughts of someone in crisis.  St. Albin describes a character “using her small voice to tell me that she can’t hide.”  The song offers a real and brutal insight into the difficulties one will face after confronting their problems.  But in that morbidity there is a sense of hope that whomever faces such horrors is not alone.  “Small Voice” is the ideal closer for St. Albin’s raw and honest debut release, a beautiful collection of songs that with each listen will bring forth themes and motifs layered throughout to tell a story of love, loss and ultimately hope.

If you’d like to check out Sarah St. Albin live, she’ll be performing at “A Night in Neverland” at The Rendezvous in Seattle on October 21. Click HERE for show details.

(Listen to ‘Small Voice’ below via Bandcamp and get more info about Sarah St. Albin at her website HERE.)

Submissions for 100 Bands in 100 Days are still open to any Pacific Northwest band interested in submitting. If you would like to submit for a chance to be featured in this segment, consult this link for more information on how you can do so.

A huge shoutout to Verity Credit Union for doing so much for the music community and for being such a great partner. 

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