Sarah Neufeld Hero Brother

Sarah NeufeldHero Brother
8
Talk about working a room. The overwhelming sensation of Sarah Neufeld's debut disc is the sonic sumptuousness of the recording environments, which feature seemingly infinite headspaces and warm blankets of wind noise. Such character could be a double-edged sword; she could playing anything and it would sound cool. But as any solo instrumentalist should be, Neufeld is incredibly sensitive to her surroundings. Minimalism is a key part of this record, but it quickly gets interesting in these environments. Sometimes Neufeld bows just enough to incorporate the room's reflection into her sound, elsewhere she stomps angrily to create a heavy beat (as on the title track). She eschews vibrato almost completely, favouring bent pitches that owe a debt to Appalachia. Timbrally, her violin goes everywhere: "Wrong Thought" sounds like harmonizer feedback at first, whereas its companion, "Right Thought," is the folksiest of all, with bluesy chords turning into a low-key, churning rhythm. Producer Nils Frahm also contributes a few deft touches, such as just enough piano in "Forcelessness" to create some much needed harmonic contrast. There's no question Hero Brother is a tremendously accomplished series of recordings that hold together as a whole, but one also gets the sense of being at the beginning of a journey that could get better as the years go by.