Sean Nicholas Savage - Other Life

Sean Nicholas Savage - Other Life
Album Reviews

Fusing love and pain with a cutting introspection, all his emotions are strewn into a heaped pile to be picked apart.



Label: Arbutus
Released: 27th May 2013
Reviewer: Hannah Phillips
A cornerstone in the recent wave of Canadian breakthroughs – alongside Grimes, The Weeknd and Dirty Beaches, to name a few – Sean Nicholas Savage has been the overlooked driving force behind Montreal’s budding music scene for quite some time now. Not one to procrastinate either, he already has nine albums to his name in half as many years. But having taken a – by his terms – slightly lengthier break to experiment with his sound, ‘Other Life’ finds Savage seemingly attempting to slip out from under the radar and follow in the line of his peers, dropping the more up-tempo arrangements in favour of slicker and mellower takes.
 
‘She Looks Like You’ eases the new approach in effortlessly. With little more than an off-kilter beat and smooth saxophone solo, the fairly minimalist arrangement sees Savage’s vocals take centre stage – which seems to form the foundations of ‘Other Life’. Right through to the yearning of ‘Bygone Summer’ and previously released ‘Lonely Woman’, he can be found in a tormented state for the duration, weaving in and out of his traditional R&B-esque croon and more desolate cries. A contemporary Lionel Ritchie at his finest. Except a little less straightforward.
 
Rather, Savage’s songwriting takes a far more perplexing angle. Fusing love and pain with a cutting introspection, all his emotions are strewn into a heaped pile to be picked apart. A little sappy at times, yes - “if it’s your dream, I’ll make it real, if it’s your dream, I’ll make it come true” he promises on ‘Like A Baby’ – but there’s an unnerving quality to Sean Nicholas Savage that seems to intensify with each release. It’s a quality that’s highlighted further against the stripped-back instrumentation.
 
Yet this is by no means a complete rebirth of Savage’s sound. The irresistible synths and keyboard of title track ‘Other Life’ add a subtle funk into the mix, while ‘Chin Chin’ and ‘You Changed Me’ reintroduce the calmer groove of 2011’s ‘Flamingo’. The lo-fi pop is still there, it’s just more precise and glossier.
Rating: 7/10
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