It’s been several years since the Sadies’ last studio album, 2007’s New Seasons. Prior to that they released a career-defining live record that found them in the company of
an elite roster of guest stars — among them, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, Garth
Hudson, Blue Rodeo, Gary Louris, Heavy Trash. And last year they collaborated with John Doe for the Country Club album. If, in fact, one is judged by the
company they keep, then clearly the Sadies have come into their own.
Circles continues that trajectory, affirming the Sadies’ old school
precepts and a decided ‘70s stance. The Sadies have never been fond of
complicating matters, and if their earlier efforts affirmed a certain
insurgency, then so too, do they show their fondness for old school Americana as well. So this
time around, both perspectives get equal footing. Songs such as “Another Year Again,” “Another
Day Again” and “Violet and Jeffrey Lee” plow straight ahead, frisky, tenacious
romps rammed through at full throttle. Likewise,
“Postcards” brings to mind the Dead in pedal steel mode, as well as the New
Riders, flush full of down-home twang and sway.
Still, this isn’t all rosy revelry either. As its title
implies, Darker Circles has its
somber interludes as well, particularly “Cut Corners,” “The Quiet One” and
“Choosing to Fly,” solemn moments of serious heads-down reflection. Yet nothing compares with the set’s final song
– “Ten More Songs” – a would-be, could-be theme for an imaginary spaghetti
western… one that might even make Clint Eastwood and Ennio Morricone itching to
spend more time south of the border.
Tracks: “Another Year Again.” “Postcards” LEE ZIMMERMAN