Blasko, Sarah

View details of this image

For those not in the know, the overture is that tune at the start of a musical, which features all the little excerpts of melodies from all the songs in the show. All woven into one, flowing drama of its own. The scene is set, boy met, conflict engaged, tension built, hope all but lost and then in a final twist, the hero emerges and resolution unfurls itself on a world still obscured by curtains, and drowned out by the murmurs of ushers.

It sets the scene by tempting you with all the drama and intrigue that the full story will bring, but snatches it away before your coat is even checked. Perhaps, that's why Sarah Blasko has chosen “The Overture & The Underscore” as the title of her very first album. An encapsulation of the many intertwining narratives and textures her musical life promises, and a defining moment in its progression so far.

Sarah started singing in the pews of a church, flanked on one side by her tone-deaf mother, and on the other by an eighty-year-old soprano unafraid to flaunt her vocal chops.
“...Be the umption in my gumption keep me burning, be the umption in my gumption I pray. Be the umption in my gumption, help me function, function, function, help me function to the break of day!”

Perhaps it was amongst these congregations that the influence of music seeped into her subconscious. For Sarah Blasko was conceived, the youngest missionary in the French speaking paradise of Reunion Island, before her Father, who courageously led the crusade, brought her home to greener pastors.

But it isn't only religious intervention that Sarah has known, either. Once, members of a band she fronted decided that they all should thrash out their gladiatorial disagreements in the coliseum of group therapy. But that's when everyone submits to therapy, isn't it? When they already know it's time to go solo. So she took her guitar and headed home.

And home was exactly where she set to work on her first EP “Prelusive”. A six track treasure of beats, guitars and amazing vocals all homespun on a yarn that overlooked a suburban primary school. It was enough to get her signed to fresh-faced record label Dew Process, who envisaged big things for Sarah.

But Sarah was already miles ahead. She'd already left behind the quaint charm of the bedside sampler and was busy working on a whole new sound. Departing more than anything from familiarity itself, Sarah decided that the ends of the earth would be among the best places to start. So Hollywood it was.

Arriving in town with her arms full, having spent the previous six months writing and recording at home, Sarah brought with her a strong sense of purpose and a barrage of demo material. From 4-track tapes of endless tipsy acoustic sessions to painstakingly elaborate arrangements for mammoth synthesized orchestras. Even a sample or two straight out of the circa-1980s Casio keyboard. Melodies still fresh to her own ears sat alongside songs first conceived almost ten years ago.

The challenge would be for Sarah to knit these different fabrics into a whole of their own, without it resulting in patchwork. This was perhaps one reason she found an ally in Wally Gagel whose work with The Eels & The Folk Implosion had already shown a flair for melding the organic with the electronic. She also avoided the input of too many outsiders, with her and bandmate Robert F Cranny arranging and playing almost all of the instruments on the album, and drumming superhero Joey Waronker - originally called in for a handful of tracks - playing all the drums and percussion.

In all this, Sarah Blasko has succeeded. Tunes originally hatched on lone guitars or pianos have grown into sweeping symphonies. Songs that span a musical lifetime tell a story timeless, yet not an hour long. Tracks laid down in the town house closets of her suburban demo sessions mingle happily in the company of those born under the spotlights of Hollywood nights. Even some of the Casio keyboard lines survived.

Sarah Blasko's debut album speaks largely for itself. Eleven new compositions including the already namedropped “All Coming Back” & “Don't U Eva”. The engineering & production skills of Wally Gagel. The amazing drumming of Joey Waronker, whose tub-thumping has been heard in the music of Beck & REM. The studious studio arrangements of Sydney indie-rock mainstay Robert F Cranny. And the sublime songwriting, inimitable intuitions and unique voice of Sarah Blasko. All delicately and painstakingly crafted in one ridiculous mad rush, somewhere beneath the world's most famous real estate sign.

She's called it “The Overture & The Underscore”. Perhaps it's time to take our seats.

Information from
Record number
15 January 2004
To cite this page