Sarah Slean Orphan Music

Painfully obvious statement dead ahead: Sarah Slean can sing. Anyone with a halfway decent voice can sound great on disc with a splash of studio magic but true musicians prove themselves in a live setting. On Orphan Music, Canada’s kooky cabaret siren needs nothing but a microphone and a piano to cast spells. Slean’s control and emotional range is awing and her quirky, ethereal voice sounds better on the live tracks, if only because she takes more musical risks and lets her freak flag fly. Unfortunately, Slean’s between song banter can get irritating after repeat listens. She often sounds like a crazy warbling bird or — worse yet — Liza Minelli. Also frustrating is the exclusion of "Sweet Ones,” arguably Slean’s catchiest and most popular song. But despite its flaws and omissions, Orphan Music is a treat for Slean aficionados and a solid starting point for new fans. (MapleMusic)