From earning a whopping seven ARIA Awards (including Album of the Year for 2005’s The Overture & the Underscore and Best Female Artist for her last album, What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have), to composing the score for Bell Shakespeare Company’s renowned production of Hamlet in 2008, Sarah Blasko has certainly come leaps and bounds since the days of gigging on dingy pub stages and her debut EP, Prelusive.
Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden, with the help of acclaimed producer, Peter Bjorn & John’s Bjorn Yttling, Blasko’s third full-length album is a significant turning point for the Sydney singer. Her first release without long-time collaborator Robert F. Cranny, As Day Follows Night sees Blasko take the reins for the first time, and the result is a more exploratory album, both sonically and personally.
Yttling’s influence is obvious. Most recently he has stepped behind the producer’s helm for artists like Lykke Li and Camera Obscura, and his penchant for lush, textured production has helped shaped Blasko’s most sonically diverse album to date. With the help of several Swedish jazz musicians, Yttling helped her create a musical landscape that goes well beyond standard instrumentation.
Indeed, the record is mostly stripped bare of guitar-based tunes she favoured in previous work. Subtle hooks, piano flourishes and sweeping string arrangements underlie We Won’t Run, which has a classic soulful ‘60s feel. Blasko’s strong, haunting pop sensibility is still very much present, but it is peppered with a definite jazz flavour, especially in the dramatic and brassy No Turning Back, and album highlight: the sexy, smoky Bird on a Wire.
Blasko’s velvety, fragile vocals have always been the standout in her albums. On As Day Follows Night, her voice is pitch-perfect and rich with a raw, honest quality. Her voice lilts and breaks through a collection of soul-searching and self-exploratory songs. In leading single All I Want, she seems to speak for anyone who has come out of a relationship with a sense of independence, but a feeling of confusion and loss, when she sings, “All I want is to someday know myself.” Her desire to capture the bittersweet quality of blues music comes through in Sleeper Awake, a melancholic but optimistic piano synthesiser-led ode to losing something, but desiring to find it again.
Sarah Blasko continues to go from strength to strength with each release. Perhaps this isn’t her most accessible album, but As Day Follows Night is certainly her most eclectic, adventurous and self assured.