Album Review: Sarah Darling – DREAM COUNTRY


DREAM COUNTRY marks Sarah Darling most sophisticated and honest music to date

Following a sold out tour in the UK and Ireland, American country music singer and songwriter Sarah Darling releases her debut UK album DREAM COUNTRY, her first full-length transatlantic and independent release.

For those who haven’t heard of the Nashville based singer-songwriter, Darling first shot to fame in the US in 2003 when she appeared as a top-three finalist on E! Entertainment Television’s reality show THE ENTERTAINER, hosted by Wayne Newton. Since then, the 34 year old has solidified her place as one of country music’s breakout performers, supporting stadium fillers such as Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill and Tim McGraw, and accumulating over a million downloads from fans worldwide.

DREAM COUNTRY marks Darling’s first full-length record in the UK and follows two major label US releases EVERY MONDAY MORNING (2009) and ANGELS & DEVILS (2011). The ten track CD brings a taste of Nashville and the Bluebird Café to British shores, crossing country and Americana with jazz and contemporary pop in Darling’s unmistakable escapist style.

It is clear from the album artwork that this is a record that focuses on stars, romance and dreams. The simple yet beautiful cardboard album cover clever opens out to reveal a sky full of gold stars and a moon, as well as lyric snippets from some of the tracks on the album. This theme of wanderlust, love and stargazing continues through in the music.

The dreamy WANDERING STAR opens the album and instantly sets the tone with its soft pop sound and soaring strings. The catchy and honest lyrics reveal a story of a woman who doesn’t know where she is going but knows something amazing is around the corner. This inspirational and dreamy optimism continues in HALLEY’S COMET, a big ballad is about self-belief and STARRY EYES, a contemporary pop song and arguably the best track on the album.

Darling’s country roots shine through in WHERE COWBOYS RIDE, a catchy country number with a steady beat which pays homage to the American state of Wyoming and ANCHOR, a delicate number co-written with (the ABC show) Nashville’s Sam Palladio, which is sure to win you over with its sweet vocals and beautiful harmonies.

Fans of Darling’s work will recognise her debut UK single YOU TAKE ME ALL THE WAY, a cheeky jazz inspired track and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME GET WHAT I WANT, an acoustic cover of the classic 1986 track by The Smiths which had a limited release back in October 2016.

TELL THAT DEVIL, a rock track about a girl who kicks her bad boy into touch and MONTMARTRE, a sweet track about Paris – the city where Darling fell in love – are also worth a listen.

The only real disappointment is the album closer STARGAZER, which veers too far into a dream-like world with its trippy guitar riff and vocal echoes. At just over 38 minutes long, the album is also a quick listen and you can’t help but feeling that it’s missing a couple of extra tracks which would have made it feel like more of a rounded record.

That said, it is difficult not to get swept up by DREAM COUNTRY as the tracks take you on a whimsical and inspirational ride about never giving up. The album also marks Darling’s most sophisticated and honest music to date, reflecting where she is artistically, professionally and personally. Overall, an impressive record that captures the spirit of the ones who love to dream.

4 out of 5 stars

DREAM COUNTRY* by Sarah Darling is released on 10 February 2017 and is available via Amazon for £7.99

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