AllMusic Guide - J. Poet
The Plum Tree and The Rose
The word timeless is often bandied about when critics discuss folksingers, but it’s actually an apt description for Sarah McQuaid’s vocals and compositional style. She’s traveled the world since she was a child, singing folk songs and soaking up folk culture. She lived in Ireland for 13 years and currently resides in England and sounds more like a British folkie than an American singer/songwriter. “The Sun Goes on Rising” sounds ancient, but it addresses the current economic downturn and although it says “things will get better,” its bluesy tone and McQuaid’s desolate vocal imply otherwise. McQuaid’s crystalline picking and Rod McVey’s piano grace “So Much Rain,” a song of lost love with a folk/jazz feel. “Lift You Up and Let You Fly” is the prayer of a mother for her young child and it balances delicately on the cusp of overprotection and empowerment. McQuaid’s vocal is full of the tremulous emotion every parent feels. The album includes several tasty covers as well. “Solid Air,” a tune John Martyn wrote as a remembrance for Nick Drake, is as soulful and somber as Drake’s music. McQuaid’s vocal and Bill Blackmore’s trumpet imbue the track with unbearable melancholy. “S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada” is a French troubadour song from the 1200s with a meandering melody that’s perfect for showing off McQuaid’s music and emotional range. John Dowland’s 1603 hit “Can She Excuse My Wrongs” features some McQuaid’s impressive Elizabethan-style picking and “New Oysters New,” from 1609, sounds like a wandering street vendor’s commercial for fresh shellfish.