Album Reviews

Sarabeth Tucek – Get Well Soon

(Sonic Cathedral) UK release date: 11 April 2011

Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon Back in 2007 Sarabeth Tucek was riding a wave of intense interest. Bob Dylan was a fan, her debut album was a critical success, and it appeared that nothing could go wrong.

Life often has different plans, and so it proved in Sarabeth’s case. The carpet was pulled from under her dramatically; the death of her father (a heart attack whilst out alone boating on a lake) stopped everything in its tracks. Her world, as she notes here in The Wound And The Bow, was “turned upside down”. This album goes someway to detailing her emotions and the toll it took on her mentally.

With Josh T Pearson‘s Last Of The Country Gentlemen earlier in the year and now Get Well Soon, it would appear that the world is finally being blessed with a handful of folk inflected albums that aren’t just empty-hearted strum fests. Tucek, like Pearson, has written an album of sincere and most importantly beautiful songs. Whilst Get Well Soon is not strictly a confessional, it is rumination on life, death and memories.

The Wound And The Bow opens the album and sets the scene with gentle finger picked guitars and a haunting vocal so intimate that Tucek’s breath can almost be felt on the neck.

However it’s not until second track Wooden that things really get moving. Starting life in a similar muted fashion to Wound, it kicks into life with an explosion of distorted guitars and thundering drums. The effect is reminiscent of Neil Young at his most cathartic, and the sudden jolt catches the listener out every time. As Tucek finds herself running down to the lake to watch her father “fade in the boat” the guitars wrench and twist. It’s a truly painful moment.

Sarabeth’s willingness to explore her grief means that there are times where Get Well Soon almost becomes unbearably voyeuristic. However, those who have lost love ones will find comfort in her words and the emotion that she injects into these songs; the shared experience of pain and regret being part of the healing process. The dream she outlines in The Fireman where her father appears to her saying “I will always be your father, and you will always be my daughter” will be familiar in tone, if not imagery, to anyone who has experienced loss in some form. Musically, the influence of Natalie Merchant, Patti Smith and at times Bread is evident here, but never overriding – the pure emotion simply carries the song in its own right.

Dreams feature once again in Rising, as Tucek struggles to lift her father above the rising flood waters. The song itself is initially driven by shimmering vibrato guitar which is by turns wonderful and when allowed to decay into feedback utterly desolate. It explodes at the midpoint becoming an emotional outpouring, Tucek imploring “I can’t wait to see you again” before concluding painfully “I can’t see you again”. However there are small glimpses of light starting to appear at the start of the song, as the sun begins to shine through a break in her window.

This small positive glimpse of sunlight carries through to the elegant but stripped-down closing title-track. Tucek admits to herself that she was sad and that her mind was “cracked”, but this recognition of her grief has helped her to get well. Indeed, she implores that the listener to “go help someone, get them well…it just takes time”.

In writing this stunning, emotive album Sarabeth Tucek has not only dealt with her own grief, but will undeniably help others in a similar situation, a perfect way to commemorate her father.

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