Sandi Thom, remember her? She sang that soft and happy pop song called I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) that most people know her for. However this, Flesh & Blood, is her fourth full length release, and the opening track is a killer!
If you were expecting a track along similar lines as ‘that song’ then you’ll be quite surprised, whether that be pleasantly or not. The opening track of Sandi Thom’s latest album, Flesh and Blood, is a very bluesy and poppy. Her voice is so strong. Seriously, it will pull you in, and won’t let go! The track’s called Help Me, and opens with a gritty and dirty sounding guitar with Sandi humming some notes in an obviously minor key. However bluesy it is, it’s kind of stereotypical, rather like something Christina Aguilera would do. It features a harmonica, a traditional sounding piano (not a shitty piano-effect-synth that pop acts love to use) and some back up vocalists from a Motown recording. Nevertheless, It’s still an awesome tune that will tear right through you and make you forget anything you thought you knew about Sandi Thom.
The second track opens with a steel stringed acoustic guitar and some very sombre drums. It’s very much a ballad, and what was expected when going into this review. Sandi’s beautiful vocals are shown off, but not in that flashy ‘look at me’ kind of way that so many pop artists do. There’s a pain in her voice that makes the song so much more than just a love ballad.
Five tracks in, a fairly psychedelic pop-rock song named In The Pines appears. By this point, Sandi will have your balls in her hands, and you will follow everything she says (This coming from a writer who is a punk rock Australian who despises anything hinting at mainstream). When psychedelic is mentioned, it does not refer to Tame Impala or Led Zeppelin. It refers to some slight reverb and wah wah. Sandi’s voice is not altered at all. The pain and emotion is what makes her so incredible. Whether she makes these stories up or not is a mystery, but her heart must be broken into a million pieces if they are true!
Rise As One is another Blues track, and makes an appearance in the ninth spot on this record. With a slide guitar similar to Australian artist Ash Grunwald, just very toned down, Sandi gives a real Southern American feel on this track. More vocal acrobatics give another Christina Aguilera feel, but all in all, Sandi is fucking amazing.
(Yes we’re going to talk about Australia again)
In Australia, there’s a massive festival called Bluesfest which takes place in Byron Bay, half way between Brisbane and Sydney. It features a lot of really old blues artists, as well as many old popular artists as well. Next year features Paul Simon, Iggy & The Stooges, Robert Plant, Wilco, and shitloads more. Ben Harper, Newton Faulkner and Xavier Rudd all feature as well, so it’s obvious that the festival isn’t just blues. Sandi Thom would be a perfect addition.
This may be a pop album, but it’s safe to say that it is blues influenced, and it’s as deep as they come. This’ll tug at your heart. Oldies will love it, kids probably won’t but what do they know anyway? Sandi may be in her thirties now, but mainstream radio would make a killing off it if they stopped playing crap and concentrated on artists with substance. This is relatable music. This is honest music. This is GOOD music! It may not be overly original, nor is it groundbreaking or genre defining, but Sandi Thom knows her shit. She can sing. She can write. She can tell her band what to do, and how to do it well. Fuck yeah Sandi Thom.