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REVIEW: Sarah Blasko

PUBLISHED: 19:19 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:50 05 October 2010

For some reason, very few Australian acts seem to make it big in the UK. So it is a major step for Sarah Blasko, even with a series of Aussie music awards on the bookcase, to attempt to launch a career here. INXS, AC/DC, Nick Cave, Kylie (and Dannii), J

For some reason, very few Australian acts seem to 'make it big' in the UK.

So it is a major step for Sarah Blasko, even with a series of Aussie music awards on the bookcase, to attempt to launch a career here.

INXS, AC/DC, Nick Cave, Kylie (and Dannii), Jason Donovan, Men At Work, Midnight Oil, Crowded House, Savage Garden - oh and Rolf Harris. The list of major successes is pretty short.

Even Cold Chisel, giant heroes down under, failed to win recognition in the northern hemisphere.

But Blasko is unlike any of these artists. Not hard rock or mainstream pop, but offering the sort of alternative folk pop that doesn't fit the stereotype of Australian music.

Her first UK single, We Won't Run is out on March 22 with the album As Day Follows Night set to appear on April 5.

With a dominant drum track accompanied by just bass at the start, We Won't Run builds beautifully through the gradual addition of piano and then strings and backing vocals.

It is a stand-out song on an album dominated by Blasko's otherworldly vocals.

There is a strong similarity with the sound of Irish songstress Lisa Hannigan's voice, but where Hannigan's songwriting generally accentuates the positive, there is an overwhelming sadness about Blasko's work.

Part of that must be down to her composing the score for the Bell Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet as she was writing these tracks.

She attributes it to her exploring the piano as an instrument and using very little guitar, and the opening track, Down On Love, demonstrates what she means.

It opens with atmospheric piano chords and then, backed by swirling strings, goes on to create a sound which conjures an image of a tragic black and white movie.

After the strange theatrical orientation of Lost & Defeated, a depressing tale about a woman recently married, the mood is finally lifted by the marching sound of Over & Over.

By then, three-quarters of the way through the album, it comes as a relief.

Mary Margaret O'Hara wrote music of this kind 25 years ago, but had a greater range of moods and detailed studies of the human condition.

But Blasko's attitude to life and music is an interesting one.

She says: "In life in general, I like to feel uncomfortable, I like to put myself through difficulties unnecessarily.

"Nothing good comes out of being complacent."

And that, it seems, applies to breaking the UK market.

"I've wanted to have my music out here for a long time," she says.

"I've always known it was possible, but I'm a big believer in things happening at the right time.

"With this album, everything seems to have slotted in to place and the timing feels perfect."

*Sarah Blasko's single We Won't Run is released on March 22 on Dramatico Records.

The album As Day Follows Night is out on April 5. She plays three sold out dates at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on April 28, 29 and 30.

Tim Cole

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