FolkWords - Tim Carroll (Feb 2015)
‘Walking into White’ from Sarah McQuaid - completeness and unity pervades
The echoing magic of ‘Walking into White’, the latest album from Sarah McQuaid, seizes you from the first and holds you captured long after the last notes fade. The owner of a distinctive captivating voice, exponent of striking melodic dexterity, Sarah has created an album suffused with slices of exploration and discovery that writes one more mesmeric chapter in the ever-expanding chronicle of her music.
Sending out a trembling resonance, this is a collection of songs that feel their way into your being, combining to impart breadth and spread coupled with an allure that beguiles you to share the confidences they reveal. From the supremely melodic instrumental ‘I Am Grateful For What I Have’ through the lingering three-part round of ‘Jackdaws Rising’ to the combination of child-inspired innocence and adult-insecuritites running through ‘Yellowstone’, a sense of completeness and unity pervades the entire album.
The hypnotic ‘Low Winter Sun’ pulls you into a moody, synthesized soundscape evoking the chill that accompanies cold winter sunshine, before the potent ‘Where The Wind Decides To Blow’, taking its influence from Arthur Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’, adds adult nuances to the story’s theme. The references to ‘Swallows and Amazons’ crop up in two more songs, with Sarah using her love of these children's books to expand allegorical reach. ‘The Tide’ explores navigating a ‘safe channel’ through shallow water into the dangers lurking in life’s shallows’, while ‘Walking Into White’ expands on another life-parable of finding your way through enveloping fog.
The truly beautiful ‘Leave It For Another Day’ with its echoing guitars, deeply-moving lyrics and haunting vocals is a shiver-inducing song, ‘Canticle Of The Sun’ (better known as ‘All Creatures Of Our God And King’) repeats the splendour, while Sarah’s emotive take on Ewan McColl’s ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ performs the perfect close.