Sara Lowes
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Sara Lowes

Manchester, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

Manchester, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Pop


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"Sara Lowes – Back To Creation"

Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Sara Lowes has been adding lots of colour to musical palettes in the last decade, working with the likes of Micah Hinson, Jim Noir and King Creosote to name but a few. She’s perhaps best known for her work with Burnley-cum-Texas psych-folk progrockers The Earlies, applying assorted orchestrations and harmonies and touring as their mainstay keyboard player. It’s been a musical scholarship of sorts, invited by Christian Madden of the band to join 8 years ago as they finished off their studies at Burnley College. Lowes put her own musical ambitions on hold to take a longer view of things as a musician, and it’s paid dividends if Back To Creation is anything to go by, an accomplished and impressive debut which showcases a rich vein of musical styles. The intervening years have also seen a sprinkling of material in her own right: a mini-album Tomorrow’s Laughter in 2008 and the Single Girl ep in 2010, which are worth investigating, but this is the big one!

The title track is a nice way to open, with gently undulating harmonies quickly slipping into something sassier, a piano-driven hook followed by warm jazz horns, quietly confident and the rich sound a possible nod to her compadres doubtlessly involved in this project. ‘Night Times’ starts like its predecessor but then sonically takes off into Curved Air folk territory, and there’s a nice grandstanding chorus with spacy-sounding keyboards. Lowe’s voice is wispy and harmonious, but she’s no shrinking violet either: on ‘Vapour Trails’ the vocal is fuller and bolder, the ghost of Sandy Denny lives! This and the accompaniment, with Byrds-like jangling guitar and a cacophony of brass and beautiful sighing strings at the end, make it the standout track for me.

One review of Back To Creation seems to be equating Lowes music with a new Manchester music scene, burying the gloomladen past of Factory, Oasis and The Stone Roses, but it’s possibly looking down the wrong end of the telescope. The Earlies reach was always Transatlantic, spreading their tentacles in all sorts of directions, more a love of great music than being bound to any particularly local scene. Ironically, by sending MP3 files to each other across the ocean they allowed their multi-layered music to develop organically, a sound coming from somewhere deeper inside but wise enough to acknowledge its roots. Lowes music echoes this, nothing sounds forced and she shows great versatility as an artist, equally at home rocking out on the West Coast-sounding ‘I Wish’ (I’m reluctant to say jazz-rock, but the best shades of 70s Chicago Transit Authority ’25 Or 6 To 4') reprised as brash-sounding instrumental ‘I Wish, Don’t You’ at the end of the album, or turning her hand to the more psychedelic ‘Bite The Pie’, or the jazz-infused ‘Something I Don’t Know’, wonderfully embellished with a Dexys-like/TK Horns section. Compare those with the gentler piano-based numbers like ‘You’ (up there with the likes of Kate Bush’s ‘Lionheart’) and winningly unassuming ‘Untitled’, another personal favourite, with a darker melancholic feel and pause for thought which seem to throw the rest of the album slightly off-kilter.

So nice to see an artist plying their craft for the long-haul: Back To Creation is no one-stop shop, Lowes will continue to absorb influences and work with different people, gathering experience and developing as both singer-songwriter and musician. And plenty of colour in the long and winding road ahead. - The Line Of Best Fit

"Sara Lowes Back to Creation"

Sara Lowes’ debut record, born and raised within the characteristically smoky haunts of jazz and midnight Sixties classic pop, helps to highlight another in an increasingly long line of artists from Manchester who are burying the stereotype of Britain’s most curious musical city and neatly raking the dirt back over the grave. The belated rediscovery of Joy Division and the continued looming spectres of Oasis and The Stone Roses do their best to perpetuate the myth that Manchester hasn’t moved on from the past; while in all honesty, nothing could be further from the truth. The city is awash with taut, exciting, raw electronic, post-rock and alternative bands who are carving their own niche into the greying, granite walls. And Lowes comes from another stable, part of an increasing assortment of fascinating artists rising from the assorted clichés of Manchester with their own northern, skewed jazz-pop influences.
Sonically, Back to Creation is an engaging and multi-layered listen featuring impeccable musicianship (including a significant contribution from the ever-wonderful The Earlies) and a fresh, vibrant tone that perpetuates from the first note to the last. From the intertwining horns and sharp harmonics of ‘Single Girl’ to the cyclical stomp of ‘Bite The Pie’, Lowes and her entourage work best when they throw everything into a stirring, chaotic pile of sound from which the songs emerge. The whole record has an element of a rolling street carnival about it: brass and clatter march past to be replaced by slow piano motifs before the tempo picks up again and the party restarts with vigour. Credit is due to Lowes and her band for altering their tempos and creating a rich concoction of sound, with a pleasing blend of soft, melodic piano-led compositions (‘You’ is truly gorgeous) rubbing shoulders with swooping rises, falls and squalls of powerful, building melodies (‘Vapour Trails’, ‘The Island Spell’). In many ways, it harks back to the classic Sixties era of British Female Pop in its blend of sweetness, sadness and unequivocal prettiness. The only nagging concern with Back to Creation is that while it continually sounds engaging and interesting, there isn’t an obvious standout track that peaks into anything that you could see troubling mainstream playlists or your own best tracks of the year list. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but there is a need for an album like this to give something new and unique to the world in order to be fully appreciated and propelled to the next level of recognition. Musically, it pushes all the right buttons (layered harmonies, lush piano, brass flourishes) but at times, it can struggle to maintain the undivided ear of the listener over the course of the entire record, especially during some of the middle section of the record which at times comes across as a touch undercooked, unfulfilled and identikit.
Having said that all that, the album ultimately wins its way into your affections despite its flaws. The primary reason for this, despite the impressive combination of talented musicians, is predominantly due to the striking, warm charms of Lowes herself, who ends up gamely picking the record on her slender shoulders, carrying it and lifting it beyond the middle ground it could so easily end up inhabiting. She has an odd and charismatic voice: part seductress and part smothering, mothering elder that covers each song with a curious, thick and warm blanket and to colour in the blank spaces, gives the album a genuine personality that it otherwise may have lacked. And in the overall summation, the singing, the enthusiasm and the genuine charm of the instrumentation eventually ends up winning out: polishing the rough edges of a record honed and crafted with intelligence, care and clarity. Sara Lowes has established her territory, modus operandi and individuality; it won’t take too much development and invention to turn bronze into gold.
- Drowned In Sound

"Sara Lowes - Single Girl EP Like stepping into an aural time machine."

One of the best female artists in the country is once again showcased on Manchester’s best indie label. Together they deliver an obscure selection of jazzy pop-tronica that’s as fine an example of innovation as any we’ve heard in some time.

As an artist she has worked with names such as King Creosote, Jim Noir and The Earlies, in 2008 listeners were wowed by her mini-album, ‘Tomorrow’s Laughter’ while her proceeding EP- ‘Back to Creation’ confirmed her as a true genre-defying talent. With this third instalment expect more of the same, which is by no means a bad thing.

Trumpets kick off the title track, before Oompa Lumpa beats and basslines enter the fray. You could almost be forgiven for thinking you’d slipped on the Matthew Herbert produced debut from Moloko’s Roisin Murphy, save for the lack of house music.

The five-track EP is defined by hypnotic vocals, head bobbing rhythms and proud brass. Once the sliding organs and muted guitars come to life it really is like stepping into some aural time machine, taking in the psychedelic 60s via the upbeat 80s on a course set for a 21st Century destination, making for a hugely enjoyable ride.
- Click Music


Back To Creation 23/05/2011



Lowes began playing the piano at the age of four, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother – both accomplished classical pianists. But Sara was turned on to pop music by as a teenager, and soon began writing her own songs. A decade later, great adventures touring Europe and the US and hitting the festival circuit with her various bands behind her (kind of – she’s currently working on two different side projects), her songwriting has expanded from acoustic folk to kaleidoscopic, technicolour pop.

“When I first started out ten years ago, I was more of a basic songwriter,” Lowes says. “When it comes to writing now, I find all these new influences just come pouring out. I’m much more adventurous with my writing and arrangements. I find it all comes really effortlessly because of the musicians that I get to play with, they have helped shape my musical voice."