Irish Music Magazine - Eileen McCabe
Walking Into White
Waterbug Records WBG119
14 Tracks, 34 Minutes
It's album number four for the UK based singer songwriter Sarah McQuaid, who has just released Walking Into White. For this album, Sarah ventured from Cornwall, England to Cornwall, New York to work with producers Adam Pierce and Jeremy Backofen; an unexplored territory that veers away from the mainly raw, solo element yet allows for experimentation with the recording process and backing arrangements. Some of it works, some of it falls slightly away yet hardly deters from the vocal delivery that we have come to expect.
McQuaid has an intensity of vocal, dark, textured and honeyed, that can be likened to the impact of a triple espresso. It leaves you with the feeling you have just reached the other side of an emotional furnace where every thought, feeling and sense of being has smouldered through her songs.
Take the three songs inspired by Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series. ‘Where the Wind Decides To Blow’ tells the story through a child’s eyes of the frenetic fear when you are out of control; in this case on a sled on a frozen lake. McQuaid uses the pacing frenzy and vocal rush to epitomise the blind fear experienced at that moment and then contrasts this as she steps back a pace when performing ‘The Tide’ and reflects on the languidness of waiting for the tide to rise.
The third Ransome inspired song is also the title song, ‘Walking Into White’. The vocal humidity and brass accompaniment embody the helplessness of not being able to see ahead in the fog which, as Sarah says, ‘is like a parable for life’.
The whole album expresses the eclectic influences from McQuaid’s life intertwined with a symbiotic, emotive edge. With a maelstrom of intensity within, it’s a totally enthralling listen.