Sara Jackson-Holman, River Queen
Out now, Expunged Records
Once while on tour with my band Alameda, I saw Sara Jackson-Holman silence a chatty crowd in Graz, Austria. She started her set with “Push Back,” an anthemic pop track from this new six-song EP, and people were sold right on the spot. To me this came as no surprise, considering that her larger-than-life stage presence itself captivates audiences, and it doesn’t hurt that she can also write a catchy-as-hell pop hook. Now available to everyone, River Queen—recorded at Miracle Lake Studios in Camas, Wash., where she recorded her two previous releases, 2010’s When You Dream and 2012’s Cardiology—sits you down at a roundtable of influences spanning the gamut from Adele to Bach. Combining hip-hop elements with piano compositions (Jackson-Holman is a classically trained pianist), these newest songs easily join a certain canon of radio pop hits (think Lorde or My Brightest Diamond). Backed with soundscapes of lush vocal harmonies, dense melodies, and booming beats, Jackson-Holman has expanded from a more minimal sound and ventured into expansive, lavish territory. Unapologetically pop, this is a mature and confident album of love lost and won. At just 25, she comes across as a veteran, knowing exactly what she’s doing. Now the only question is: What crowd will she be silencing next?