Sarah June
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Sarah June

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

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"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - KJFC"

"Sure the songs she writes are filled with themes of death, loneliness, and sadness, but Sarah Rose sings like an angel (a baby angel) and plays guitar with fantastic musicianship. The songs may be simple, but their lyrics are fascinating (4 is a sweet, sad love song, while 2, 5, and 6 deal with death, which June sees as “home”), and her versatility as a guitarist is admirable (alternating between folk, jazz, and blues). This is a must-play for The Suicide Watch, as well as for many others who will appreciate this talented musician."~KJCF - KJFC 89.7 FM


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - BeatCrave"

Sarah June’s sophomore album, In Black Robes, is a breathy, soul-plucking follow-up to her 2008 debut entitled This is My Letter to the World. We’re going to go whole hog and just say it – we love this album. No objections there. Our only objection is the idea that in one way or another this is considered to be a “goth” album. Perhaps it’s us, but the closest thing to goth imagery we’re seeing is June herself in press shots – all of which is fitting of who she is, but not necessarily a reflection of her musical genre.Quite thankfully, her goth-ness is not quite the selling point as Avril Lavigne’s “punk-ness”, but we digress. We’re actually getting more of a subdued ethereal rock with folk/Americana undertones and a bleary-eyed view of life. Sure, we are haunted by ghosts present, past, and future, brought to light by June’s signature harmonies in an at times otherwordly key. But all this does not a solely-goth album make. June’s style is much more than that, and whether or not she knows it, she owns it.Of course, while that’s a major reason why we like her, it’s the way she paints emotion-centered visuals with her words that gets us, from constructive observations to back-burner realizations: “You bend your words like you bend the streets / [...] and I woke up to a photo negative landscape / [...] I took up smoking because I want to be a cowboy” (“Cowboy”); “I’m just a lonely skeleton in my coffing black / Singing love songs to the grim reaper; I hope he brings me back” (“Judgement Day”). And now that we think about it, her voice lands somewhere between Talking Tina and Marilyn Monroe. It tickles and weirds us out in a good way.The themes and performance encompassing the overall execution of In Black Robes makes us wonder what kind of inspiration would be necessary for, say, a third album. Take it as a challenge, Sarah June.In Black Robes is available on Silber Records - BeatCrave


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - Wildy's World"

"Sarah June is a product of her environment growing up. As a child in the urban wasteland of Detroit, June was surrounded by a city on the decline. Like any flower that grows up in the cracks of the street, in order to survive as an artist Sarah June needed to transplant herself. Chicago came first, but Sarah June ultimately settled in San Francisco. With a subtly intricate acoustic guitar style and a voice that will make you think she's a young, uncertain child, June spins the sort of webs in song that grow from a childhood spent in a land where hope is a memory. Sarah June's sophomore album, In Black Robes finds the artist embracing her voice as a songwriter and opening up to the world as unfurling to the morning sunlight.

In Black Robes opens with "Cowboy", a song that's more fulfilling musically than lyrically. It's an odd start, but befitting of what is to come. "Crossbones In Your Eyes" is exceedingly odd lyrically, but there's something magnetic about the song. You'll find yourself revisiting this one based on an elusive and obscure beauty that hides within. One of the highlights of the album is "From My Window High", a love song written from afar to multiple people. The song is very unusual, combining a pining vulnerability with a genteel creep factor that's ultimately harmless. Sarah June gets inventive on "Bluesy Melody", a nice change of pace from the more introspective material that hauntsIn Black Robes.

Sarah June shows a fine touch for imagery on "Paper Lantern", an angst-filled tune that queries the future for answers that will only come in time. "In Your Chevrolet" seems like it might connect with "Crossbones In Your Eyes", and it's difficult to tell whether the song is full of subtle innuendo or just atypical imagery. The stark harmonies of the song are lovely and disturbing all at once. "Motown" finds Sarah June offering words of encouragement to her hometown. Closing out with "'Til You Hit The Pavement", Sarah June goes out with a bit of attitude in a powerful tune that will leave you with a strong impression of the artist.

In Black Robes has a number of levels of meaning. Depending on your age, perspective and tastes it's going to appeal to different people in different ways for different reasons. The juxtaposition of a world-weary world view with Goth tastes and a vulnerably sweet, child-like voice is interesting enough to pull most listeners in for at least a few songs. Sarah Junes misses once in a while, but in general the songwriting is quite strong. In Black Robes was recorded entirely solo in Sarah June's apartment, and the stark simplicity and isolated feel of the recording lends it significant power. Whatever your final opinion, In Black Robes and Sarah June will make a distinct impression on you."
~wildy's world - Wildy's World


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - Free Magazine"

This is one pleasantly surprising CD to come out of the normally experimental/industrial/agitpop music to come from Silber Media, but for some reason, Sarah June made it on to the Silber label and is hence, ready and waiting for your attention.
Listening to it is pure bliss. It’s pretty much an almost “pizzicato” sound to it, a lot of finger picking with strong fingers, as well as just good picking all over; that and Sarah June singing in that sing-song, little girl pitch of hers, which is so beautiful sounding as well as damn cute it just can’t be ignored. I think that the clean, crisp acoustic guitar complements the perfectly pitched but precious and brittle voice, that of Sarah June.
The music is an ominous, darkly mirrored silhouette after silhouette of the coming of something. What is what the listener must find out for themselves, by personalizing it the listener can make it their own in that way.
Some stand-outs include: “Judgment Day”, “The Reaper” and the haunting, echoing “Brand of Bitterness”, one that features some fine work on the stand-up bass-fiddle and “Motown” – her “love letter” to Detroit, MI.
"Sarah June is an American musician that will certainly leave an impression on you. It is not easy nowadays, with the tones of new albums released every month, to find something fresh or shocking in music bussiness, but certainly her sophomore album In Black Robes, it is something surprising the first thing you hear it.Just with an acoustic guitar and her voice, Sarah is able to create a kind of oniric musical experience. She sounds like a mischiveous teenager about to whisper a dirty secret to the microphone, but at the same time the lyrics can be really dark and deep. Goth folk? Certainly the style is not easy to catalogue, and that makes this album even more interesting.Maybe the best parts of the album is when the rythm turns to be more bluesy, as a perfect example you can listen to the sixth track Bluesy Melody, where June`s vocal skills just shine or in Fencepost. Some other highlights of the album are the introductory Cowboy or the tenderly beautiful Paper Lantern, my favorite of the whole album." ~freemagazine - FreeMagazine


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - Dream Magazin"

Charles Schneider interviewed Sarah June for Dream #9, and I favorably reviewed her debut album This Is My Letter to the World (Hand-Eye 2008), I’m happy to report that her sophomore effort is easily up to the standards of her first. Still all created by Sarah alone in her apartment, armed with her distinctive voice and usually a guitar. One of the many standout songs is her gorgeous contribution to Dream #9’s CD, the sublimely spooky The Reaper, (a fact which is curiously not mentioned). Brand of Bitterness is beatnik jazzy coolness, and would sound perfect in a late night club. Her remarkable almost childlike voice recalls Julee Cruise, Joanna Newsom and Alison Shaw of Cranes. This includes a gorgeous rendition of Sally Go ‘Round Roses.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazin - Dream Magazin


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - Side-Line"

"Sarah June is an American artist who released the debut-album "This Is My Letter To The World" some 2 years ago now. Her new album was myintroduction to the very particular sound universe of this female musician. "In Black Robes" became a surprsing listening and one I'll definitely not forget! The songs are full of delicacy leaded by the unique and childish voice of Sarah June. She has a very particular way of singing. It sounds a bit childish, full of innocense, quite fragile and definitely dreamy. Musical wise Sarah June mainly plays acoustic guitar composing ballads full of reverie. The songs are nicely passing by, like taking the listener by the hand for a walk throughout the garden of Alice in Wonderland. "Crossbones In Your Eyes", "From My Window High" and "The Reaper" are exceptional pieces covering the opening part of this album. It might sound quite surreal, but her way of singing sometimes reminds me to Jim Morrison. It's not about the timbre of voice (of course), but more in the way she sings and accentuates some parts of the lyrics. "Brand Of Bitterness" appearing somewhere in the midst of the cd is the absolute high light. We here get some more instruments like drums and bass guitar joining in. The music sounds like a minimal version of Vaya Con Dios and is a brilliant interpretation. "Motown" coming at the end is another great cut. Sarah June he more plays with her voices showing wider vocal capacities. A very last song I've to mention is a cover version of "Sally Goes Round The Roses". The Sarah June album will bring some diversity to the Silber Records roaster while it's without a shaodw of a doubt my favorite release on this label for so far! A great piece of music"
~side-line.com - side-line.com


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - Erasing Clouds"

"Sarah June sounds like she’s singing and playing guitar in an empty room in a big, old, empty house. I played In Black Robes loud in my house, itself old and at the time relatively empty of furniture, and it echoed through every room like she was singing to the walls themselves, to ghosts and cob-webs from the basement to the attic.

It may be her voice that makes me think of ghosts. She sounds like a child, like a whisper, like someone not quite of this world. It may also be the cool blues strut in her minimalist guitar playing, the way she sounds like the ghostly reincarnation of an old blues singer, singing of highways, cars, liquor and cards. Or the way she sounds like she’s watching us from afar, like in “From My Window High”: “From my window high / I study you / while you tie your shoes.”

It’s all of those things, but it definitely also has a lot to do with how much death hangs over each song. In “The Reaper”, the title figure is a beat-jazz cool cat tipping his hat to people as he takes them down (It’s also the song where the album title comes from.) On “Judgment Day”, the reaper turns her into a skeleton and betroths her to sing love songs to him. Fighting death, she lives on the edge, trying to tilt the scale back towards life. In “Crossbones in Your Eyes”, she’s one of a legion of skeletons, rattling her bones as she drives her ’68 black Cadillac, on the prowl for more souls.

Other songs carry the death/car imagery forward (“Bluesy Melody”), or tackle the potential death of a city (“Motown”) or aging of people (“Paper Lantern”). The final track “’Til You Hit the Pavement”, where she sings “you don’t know you’re falling ‘til you hit the pavement”, gives us the notion that life is a kind of ever-present purgatory. Life is the act of being “caught between ground and sky”, or walking down the street with one eye out for that black ’68 Cadillac"
~ Dave Heaton - ErasingClouds


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - Hierophant Nox"

"Let me preface this, my very first review for Hierophant Nox, by stating that when it comes to the singer/songwriter genre I am treading in unfamiliar territory. Having said that, I enjoy having my preconceptions challenged and this is, if nothing else, definitely a challenge. The gauntlet has been well and truly laid down, and to those who are accustomed to more brutal and much rawer sounds, I urge you to take up the challenge along with me.

This is Sarah June’s second album, after 2008’s “This is My Letter to the World”. Sarah’s unique musical mixture of classical/folk/bluesy/punk/jazz/rock-tinged guitar picking and a sweet breathlessly childlike voice has come to us from San Francisco via Chicago and Detroit – indeed, one can readily detect musical influences from both the latter cities on here, in particular her style of guitar-playing. Don’t be fooled, though, by that superficial sweetness of her singing – the black-haired, tattooed songstress may have the voice of an angel, but this angel has spent her youth smoking behind the bike shed, drinking whisky and perfecting her skills at throwing axes. Not wishing to malign Miss June, but the impression one gets is one of her slowly bludgeoning a transgressor to death with a blunt instrument while giving her sunniest smile.

Death, love & loss; familiar themes and the stock in trade of the singer/songwriter, but there are very few who can carry it off with authenticity. Certainly in the edginess stakes these thirteen songs are right up there, the strong and assured guitar contrasting sharply with the fragility of Sarah’s voice – one feels that it wouldn’t take much to shatter it into a million tiny shards. This is shown to perfection on track five for instance, ‘The Reaper’: a lazy, strolling guitar, like a lethargic river on a hot summer’s day, and that sweet voice chanting so calmly and matter-of-factly about the grim harbinger of death, as if she’d just nonchalantly introduced herself after bumping into him down by the riverside. It’s that tension between the two aspects of her music that provide the frisson here – the assured and skilful guitar-playing contrasting with the blackly nursery-rhyme delivery.

In all honesty, it’s difficult not to be enchanted and entranced by Sarah June. After subjecting my ears and psyche to endless torrents of darkness, death, doom and destruction, this is a surprising change of pace, more surprising still in that despite the superficial sugar-candy elements there’s a determined streak of blackness veining every note of Sarah’s take on life. But that is its most appealing aspect, the dichotomy between what is seen (Sarah) and what you hear (her music). While not overtly ‘dark’ in the sense most would understand it, make no mistake this isn’t happy-happy music – this is maybe the kind of music that you would be listening to while driving your car at high-speed on that last ride to self-destruction."
82/100
Simon Marshall-Jones - Hierophant Nox


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - AllMusic"

"Sarah June's sophomore album thanks both Timothy the Renderer of Dark Hollow Recordsand Brian John Mitchell of Silber, who released In Black Robes -- and without being overly reductive, those two labels' general aesthetic covers the kind of softly melancholic, spooked-out music on display. But Sarah June has her own distinct spin on a sound that's at once traditional and a product of modern technology, as her use of both acoustic and electric guitar subtly signifies. Her soft, childlike voice immediately calls to mind the elegant extremes of Alison Shaw of Cranes, yet June is one to show immediate, conversational wit in her lyrics as well. Thus this line from her opening song, "And I took up smoking because I wanted to be a cowboy!," or her wry observation on "From My Window High" that the object of her affection's other love interest can't measure up because of the way "she shuffles her feet." As a result, she fits in nicely with contemporaries like Larkin Grimm and Joanna Newsom without sounding like either -- all three use "traditional" sounds to convey thoughts and ideas that are of a current time rather than a never-never land. June delivers a specific nod to the past with an interpretation of Abner Spector's "Sally Go Round the Roses," while avoiding simply making it sound like an old classic rebuffed. Meanwhile, the liberal use of echo and room ambience throughout In Black Robes gives the album a live, you-are-there quality, not to mention suggesting of the work of any number of classic performers or those inspired by them -- you could point to Jeffrey Lee Pierce just as easily as to Johnny Cash, while the fingersnaps on "The Reaper" could be both Julie London andJulee Cruise. (That feeling grows even further when she shifts to a full band arrangement for "Brand of Bitterness," as wittily dark a mid-20th century jazz vocal number as one could want in the new millennium.)"
~Ned Raggett - allmusic.com


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review on Hearwax"

"As I was listening to this album, I had this nagging feeling that Sarah June’s voice really, really reminded me of someone else. This frustrated me for the longest time, until it hit me: Sarah June sounds exactly like Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter movies. This is not an insult! First of all, I’m probably the biggest Harry Potter nerd you’ll ever meet, so I thought it was awesome that I made this connection. Finding Harry Potter references in real life makes me unreasonably happy.

Seriously though, Sarah has an undeniably beautiful, almost haunting voice that perfectly complements a whimisical, acoustic-heavy accompanying sound. Vocally, she is totally Myrtle, but musically, she evokes Anya Marina, an artist I spent most of last year (and this year, and, okay, the present) obsessing over. Also noteworthy is the juxtaposition between her dark lyrical content (“The Reaper” is sung from the point of view of a dead girl bargaining with the Grim Reaper) and her rather gentle and soft musical style, somewhat similar to Nick Drake, or even Elliott Smith. But enough with the comparisons!
In Black Robes is a beautiful album on its own accord, and it’s another I’d definitely recommend." ~ LAUREN MCGOLDRICK - Hearwax.


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review on Fourth Dimension"

"In Black Robes follows US singer/songwriter’s debut album, This is My Letter to the World, on the cult Hand Eye label in 2008. Featuring thirteen songs of a soft-focus, wispy and delicate nature that are built around simple home recordings of her with her guitar, it would be somewhat lazy to simply draw parallels with other female singer/songwriters whose work assumes a more stripped-down and minimal approach. Rather, Sarah June’s guitar style, originally inspired and still tainted by the classical jazz school, takes on a repetitive melodic slant not dissimilar to the twilight folk worlds Hand Eye themselves are especially known for traversing, although perhaps more refined. If anything, I’m reminded of some of Michael Cashmore’s solo work in terms of the way these songs are breezy and light in sound yet remain clearly personal. Sarah’s voice itself is gentle and lulling, which is perfect for this setting.

The entire album adds up to the kind of soothing listen where one knows that broken dreams are never so far away. And, in my book, this makes for a good balance. The appeal of In Black Robes goes beyond the trappings of Americana and Neu-folk, so the very best of luck to this young lady and her clear-minded craft." - Fourth Dimension


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review on BLURT"

Second record from this Detroit bred/San Francisco based artist who records her "goth folk" tunes in her apartment (she not only sings but plays all of the instruments as well). June has a distinctive voice, reminiscent of Alison Shaw of the Cranes and at times, Lisa Germano. Most of the songs are June and her acoustic guitar but with such sparse arrangements the music is full of rich, moody sounds.

On opener "Cowboy" a stuttering acoustic guitar spins intricate webs while June's voice grazes over the top while "Judgment Day" casts a bit of an eerie glow over the proceedings mainly due to June's haunting vocals and the gorgeous guitar playing on "From My Window High" again is dark and moody but more hopeful thanks to the heartfelt lyrics. Elsewhere, "Grand or Bitterness" has a jazzy/beatnik vibe to it while "Paper Lantern" is pure folk. At times the record can be a bit samey but that's nothing a full band can't change. You've done the solo thing Sarah, now go on the hunt for other talented musicians like yourself and bring on record number three.

Standout Tracks: "Cowboy", "Crossbones in Your Eyes", "From My Window High", "Paper Lantern"
~TIM HINELY - BLURT


"Sarah June "In Black Robes" review - www.scaruffi.com"

"Sarah June, who grew up in Detroit but relocated to San Francisco, sang the melancholy autobiographical meditations of This Is My Letter To The World(2008) in a childish register accompanied only with acoustic guitar. Her bedroom folk music evolved into a more profound personal experience on In Black Robes (Silber, 2010). Simple opener Cowboy presents a slightly neurotic female version of Leonard Cohen, but the most significant aspect of the album lies in her guitar playing. The guitar is the only instrument but delivers a punch comparable to an entire combo.Crossbones in Your Eyes is emblematic of her bluesy anthemic finger-picking, and Judgment Day leverages it to create a soaring and driving hymn.
Her guitar style is rooted in a sophisticated post-modernist interpretation of the tradition. The frenzied syncopated Bluesy Melody displays an affinity of sorts with the black orchestras of the 1920s, while the "femme fatale" kind of torch ballad that is Brand ofBitterness (a rare case of a full band backing her) harks back to smoky lounge jazz of the 1940s. The Reaper borrows the swampy noir feeling of plantation songs, a terrific adaptation of ancestral black music to contemporar white spleen. Her vocals and her guitar work wonders when they mercilessly exploit the darkest blues paradigm, like in the one-two punch ofIn Your Chevrolet and Motown (first the agonizing mode and then the ranting mode). With its sudden acceleration, closer `Til You Hit the Pavement sounds like an almost parodistic version of When The Saints Go Marching In.
From My Window High (perhaps the peak of pathos) emulates the evocative power of House of the Rising Son while the vocals intone a simple melody a` la ye-ye girls of the 1960s.
Rarely has a lonely guitar sounded so profoundly intimate and public at the same time." - www.scaruffi.com


"Sarah June - In Black Robes"

If one were so inclined as to distill the last 60-or-so years of music into its purest form, what would likely be left would be little more than a voice and an acoustic guitar. Sarah June has the guitar, and she also has a good shout for being that voice.

Dubbed “attic-core” thanks to its echo-y home recording, June’s sparse singer-songwriting is undoubtedly indebted to the grand traditions of Americana, yet the majority of its blustery pretence is blown away by her impressively soulful chirrup and deceptively simple – but out of the ordinary – guitar style.

Her voice avoids being nails-down-the-blackboard squeaky despite maintaining a childlike sincerity, and, often near-whispered, it has a mildly eerie creep to it which serves her well. Her guitar playing has subtle depths, ranging from the Blues to the smoldering jazz of “Brand Of Bitterness” all the way to the charismatic progressions of PJ Harvey on “In Your Chevrolet”. In Black Robe’s bread and butter however is hushed Americana in line with Georgia’s Horse‘s chilly take on the genre, or indeed the campfire-folk variety pursued by acts like Lay Low.

Building on her well-received 2007 debut This Is My Letter To The World, and despite certain middle-order numbers like “Paper Lantern” not quite making the grade, the thirteen tracks that comprise In Black Robes have a piercing directness that help them avoid mumbling alt-folk pitfalls. Yet, as the album name suggests, there is a certain sobriety to the record. Its shadows are its points of interests. June appears not to be in mourning, but it’s fair to say that she’s not happy-go-lucky either as cloudy tracks like “The Reaper” prove.

Though now a resident of San Francisco, June remains a Detroit girl at heart as the loving ode “Motown” confirms. “Don’t forget you’re still Motown” she may well sing to herself, but this is not proof of her being homesick, as on In Black Robes Sarah June sounds very much at home.

Advised downloads: “Cowboy” and “In Your Chevrolet”.

In Black Robes is out now on Silber Records. A vinyl release will follow in September 2010. - [sic]magazine


Discography

"In Black Robes" - Silber Records 2010
"This is My Letter to the World" - Hand Eye Records 2008

Photos

Bio

Sarah June is a sharp-as-a-tack lyricist, prodigal guitarist, with a haunting, soulful, and almost child-like voice. Sarah presents as a waif-like tattooed girl, but behind the distinctive appearance, Sarah is a stunningly talented guitarist, wordsmith, songwriter, and creates an unmistakably unique sound that is both innovative and powerful.

Sarah grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Vintage jazz, blues, and Motown sound largely inspire her unique style of songwriting, guitar playing, and singing. She dropped out of school to pursue her music full-time at 18, playing in bars and clubs in Chicago and Detroit.

Sarah has 2 commercial releases (full-length albums), and currently lives in California.