[sic] Magazine

Sarah June – In Black Robes

If one were so inclined as to distill the last 60-or-so years of music into its purest form, what would likely be left would be little more than a voice and an acoustic guitar. Sarah June has the guitar, and she also has a good shout for being that voice.

Dubbed “attic-core” thanks to its echo-y home recording, June’s sparse singer-songwriting is undoubtedly indebted to the grand traditions of Americana, yet the majority of its blustery pretence is blown away by her impressively soulful chirrup and deceptively simple – but out of the ordinary – guitar style.

Her voice avoids being nails-down-the-blackboard squeaky despite maintaining a childlike sincerity, and, often near-whispered, it has a mildly eerie creep to it which serves her well. Her guitar playing has subtle depths, ranging from the Blues to the smoldering jazz of “Brand Of Bitterness” all the way to the charismatic progressions of PJ Harvey on “In Your Chevrolet”. In Black Robe’s bread and butter however is hushed Americana in line with Georgia’s Horse ‘s chilly take on the genre, or indeed the campfire-folk variety pursued by acts like Lay Low .

Building on her well-received 2007 debut This Is My Letter To The World, and despite certain middle-order numbers like “Paper Lantern” not quite making the grade, the thirteen tracks that comprise In Black Robes have a piercing directness that help them avoid mumbling alt-folk pitfalls. Yet, as the album name suggests, there is a certain sobriety to the record. Its shadows are its points of interests. June appears not to be in mourning, but it’s fair to say that she’s not happy-go-lucky either as cloudy tracks like “The Reaper” prove.

Though now a resident of San Francisco, June remains a Detroit girl at heart as the loving ode “Motown” confirms. “Don’t forget you’re still Motown” she may well sing to herself, but this is not proof of her being homesick, as on In Black Robes Sarah June sounds very much at home.

Advised downloads: “Cowboy” and “In Your Chevrolet”.

~In Black Robes is out now on Silber Records . A vinyl release will follow in September 2010.~