Aussie/Kiwi songstress Sarah Belkner’s credentials are impressive. Though she started her career under the moniker, Miss Little, recent years have seen her drop the alias and grow in a way that has caught the attention of music industry alumni and critics alike.
Following on from her 2015 EP, Humans, Belkner is finally ready to grace us with a full-length debut, But You Are, But It Has, an electro-pop dream that will appeal to lovers of Megan Washington, Sally Seltmann and Sarah Blasko (the latter of whom she joined on tour recently).
The album starts with Time, where Belkner’s voice rings pure and true, captivating listeners from the first few beats, before switching somewhat seamlessly into Chance – an unusual and haunting song mixing more traditional piano/keyboards and synthesisers.
But it is with Cellophane that Belkner really grabs my attention. I’ve always been a sucker for the clever use of a keyboard and she really nails it with this song. It’s early on in the record, and I’m kicking myself for not having heard this track upon its initial release late last year. Melodic and beautiful; it’s a definite winner for me.
With a change of tack that reminds me a little of Kate Miller-Heidke, Trauma has just enough of that point of difference to pique my interest, and follows that tradition with John Lennon. It is here that I realise what a talented musician Belkner is, and what an eclectic record this debut is cracking up to be.
In what is probably the most upbeat song on the album so far, Busy Being Sad offers yet another change of pace with a unique combination of ballad and pop song. I can imagine this one getting a fair amount of airplay alongside Belkner’s contemporaries this summer. It’s just dying to be played loud in the car with the top down, and would be a nice change from the ‘monotony’ of hip-hop and over-produced pop currently on the radio.
The switch is again flipped, and Bell Song takes over. An enchanting ballad that is mournfully pure and melancholy in lyrical delivery, it’s another shining star of an album full of many.
George is the second last song of the album, taking the quirk factor to eleven. Whilst it’s not really my kind of track, it’s a good song nonetheless before the journey that is But You Are But It Has comes to its inevitable end.
Violence of Summer is something of a paradox, and really stands out to me. While it may sound all innocent and pure, lyrically, it’s tormented and strained. Yet another indication of Belkner’s impressive musicianship and sure to be a personal favourite.
When it comes down to it, Belkner has the voice of an angel. While she may have certain hallmarks of other artists in the Australian music industry, there is just enough darkness and quirk to her sound and lyrics to make her stand out from the crowd. With But You Are, But It Has, Belkner has announced her arrival. Get ready because this is only just the beginning.
[Editor/Author Note: This review was originally written for AMNplify in February 2017. To view it in its original capacity, click here.]