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Magic that Works by Sarah Masen | CD Reviews And Information | NewReleaseToday

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Magic that Works [edit]
by Sarah Masen | Genre: Country/Southern Gospel | Release Date: June 01, 2007
 

Part of a triple set of EPs, Magic that Works comes in a hand-painted slip cover. Independent music at its best and most personal.

Track Listing
Click here to add a video. Click to add lyrics if not listed.
01. Together, We Live!
02. Therapeutic/Charismatic
03. Hold the Light
04. When I was a Little Girl
05. Dream in My Dream #2

Entry last edited by dlhawkins on 08.09.08

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Fantastic Folk/Pop | Posted September 16, 2008
Sarah Masen recorded "The Holding" in 1995 at the age of 19. She's been a favorite ever since. Her voice is delicate, often fragile, and adds a sense of both beauty and dramatic tension to whatever she sings. You hear her lightly touching notes that are breathed quietly, almost tentatively. It's like watching a butterfly float on the wind and wondering if it will be able to land where it intends.

On her collection of three EPs from 2007, she blends her sensitive voice with spare instrumentation and lyrics that paint with watercolor brush stokes. Many songs are built around just voice and guitar, and it is left to the lyrics and melody to make them work. A lot of songs can't survive this kind of minimalism--they just don't have strong enough writing. It's a measure of Sarah's talent that all these songs bear repeated listening well. They are beautiful, engaging and satisfying.

The lyrics are often collections of poetic word pictures, loosely tied together around a theme. On "Try" from "A History of Light and Shadows" she begins with, "I could make a Heaven out of Hell. Give me time. I could make a Hell out of Heaven. In my mind" You get the idea that she is well aware of how easy it would be to complain about all the work and trials of new motherhood. Instead, her songs celebrate marriage, children dancing, and the peace that comes from laying down our sin and burdens.

Also from "A History of Light and Shadows" is the truly stunning second song. It starts with a encouraging, happy declaration:

Triumphant!
Victorious!
Our One True King comes to us,
humble riding on a donkey.

After further proclamations of Jesus's deeds there is a pause. Then you hear Sarah's little-girl voice declare, in drawn out form, "Let's kill Him." The contrast between her sweet voice and it's perverse message is terrible to hear. It vividly makes the point that each of us is guilty of the murder of the gentle, wise One who came to love us. This is one of my Top 10 songs of all time.

Moving to the next EP, "Magic that Works," the songs have a little more instrumentation and would fit stylistically on any Simon & Garfunkel album. Among the gems are the folk-rock "Together we live!" The lyrics are:

With hope for each other
Trembling arms, extended out
What is all this talk of fault
There is good work to be done

The children are waking up
Together we'll be enough
So unsure we will get there
Now trembling I forget where

With hope.

For now we wait in the dark
I see you when there's a spark

This is godly motherhood encapsulated in a 2.5 minute song. There's no sense of hurry, just a day ahead to enjoy and get our work done. The future is left to God, who is seen in glimpses throughout the day.

The third EP in the set is "Women's Work is Alchemy." Two of the songs are re-mixes found on the other EPs. However, the other three songs are strong enough to warrant your attention. My favorite is "Burt and Elvis." It's a slice-of-life song, again reflecting everyday moments of motherhood. The lyrics open with:

Burt and Elvis in the Red Room
My daughter's dancing in the next one
There's a poem in every turn
There's a baby in our bedroom
And he's crying like a small bird
I am praying he will sleep soon

Oh, am I not tired?
There's another world in this one
And it's spinning like my dancer

In the midst of the endless work and tiredness of motherhood, she finds "a poem in every turn," the love of God revealed in the simple joy of a daughter's unselfconscious dance. What a wonderful representation of both the blessings and weariness of parenting.

This review is repeated under the other two EP titles. Though they are sold individually, if you like one, you will enjoy them all. It's hard to find samples to listen to online, so I hope the poetry of her lyrics and description of her music as among the best folk/pop will convince you to explore. One cool benefit to her independent status is that every single CD jacket is a hand painted original. It's sad that someone as talented as this goes largely unnoticed while Britney spreads trampiness to the masses. Buy everything Sarah Masen puts out and support the good guys :)

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