Review: Awakening in FSView

Issue date: 9/4/08 Section: Arts & Life

Sarah Mac Band
4/5 stars

Through the extensive music rock scene that Tallahassee boasts comes Sarah Mac Band – with a sound that can be equivocated to bluesy, swamp jazz with a folk rock twist.

Formed in 2005, the original trio started playing religious music at their local church.

“Originally, we were a family band, I had known (bassist) Claire (Swindell) for 10 years, and we played at Church,” guitarist Charlie Vanture said. “After the service, we would stay and just write music together.”

After adding drummer Keli Swearingen, the band became complete. And yet just three years following its birth, the quartet has recorded a full-length CD and has been chosen for Paste Magazine’s monthly single compilation.

“‘Open Fire’ is one of our most popular tracks (on our newest release, Awakening),” vocalist Sarah Mac said. “It was featured on the CD sampler that accompanied the May issue (#42) of Paste Magazine. We’ve garnered quite a bit of interest recently in our music, which we attribute specifically to the fact that ‘Open Fire’ was included in that CD sampler.”

In “Open Fire,” the emotionally-electric lyrics of , “It’s not worth the noise / It’s not worth the blood / I won’t do it anymore,” takes the females – and maybe even the males – back to the time of that hurtful relationship that everyone must go through in order to grow as a person. As a whole, through the experiences of each of the members, comes an extremely intuitive and well-rounded album that can only be a result of this maturity that each member encompasses.

Through the sultry vocals of Mac as well as the intricate guitar work by Vanture, Awakening definitely helps to awaken the senses. Yet, staying true to its non-pigeon hole ideals, the album seems to reflect the various stages of life.

“More than keeping to a genre, we try to keep to themes that people can recognize, understand and relate to even if they haven’t experienced it themselves,” Vanture said. “It may not be true with every song, but it’s pretty common for us to check ourselves to make sure that it will resonate with people outside of our little practice room.”

Through the title track, “Awakening,” the lyrics seem so close to this spirit with “A thousand years of dormancy / I see for the first time a new light / I am not asleep anymore,” the song seems to be an anthem, that along with the rest of the CD, relates on such a human interaction level – it just reflects changes through an awareness that everyone faces.

“We decided to use it as the title track because we had a contest to name the CD and ‘Awakening’ won the contest. Interestingly enough, when we had a contest to name our first album, Countdown to Silence, ‘Awakening’ was the name that was submitted the most (the song was on that album as well, without drums and production),” Mac said. “When it came up again and again in the second CD naming contest, we thought about it and decided that the whole concept of ‘awakening’ was a nice, encouraging way to frame our album, especially since it was our first full album as this incarnation of the band. We’re becoming who we are together.”

Review by Shari Lesser


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