The nervous energy of the after-party lingered amid Sarah Cracknell’s 1997 debut Lipslide – but her second solo album finds the Saint Etienne vocalist escaping the club for the countryside. Working with Edwyn Collins producers Carwyn Ellis and Seb Lewsley, these pastoral acoustic ballads are intimate and innocent; In the Dark referencing the shy solitude of Nick Drake or Colin Blunstone, as the foolish sorrow of 1960s girl groups haunt its lyrics. Infidelity and betrayal are ever present, such as on Hearts Are for Breaking (“You only wanted him because he only wanted me”) or the smoky album opener On the Swings (“She’s never going to stay in your arms / She’s only around for a while and then she’s gone”), while It’s Never Too Late and Underneath the Stars recall the chic whimsy of Belle and Sebastian or Stereolab. At its core is Cracknell’s airy, elegant voice; a weightless mystique that carries a heavy heart.
Sarah Cracknell: Red Kite review – chic whimsy with a heavy heart
Harriet Gibsone is a freelance journalist