Sarah Close holds her own with ‘And Now, We’re Shining’.

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The Kodiak Club, LAB Records

The cover of Sarah Close’s debut mini-album, ‘And Now, We’re Shining’.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

English singer-songwriter Sarah Close started her YouTube channel in late 2009 when she was 14 years old and earned a steady following by posting covers of her favorite songs while working on original music.

She independently released her debut single, “Call Me Out”, in March 2017 before dropping her debut EP, Caught Up, in April of that year. Both achieved moderate success and resulted in Close signing a deal with Parlophone Records, however, the label unfortunately dropped her in mid-2018, making her an independent artist once more.

This wasn’t enough to discourage her, though, as she released her first post-label single, “You Say”, in July 2018 followed by several more singles in the period leading up to the arrival of her debut studio album, And Now, We’re Shining, in mid-March.

Branded as a mini-album with only seven tracks, And Now, We’re Shining is a short collection of contemporary pop songs that discuss various situations from Close’s personal life with a smooth vocal delivery and radio-friendly production.

The opening track and fifth single, “If It Was Me”, is an assessment of a person who’s unable to apologize for their actions due to their huge ego, with Close explaining that if she were them, she would have handled the situation with kinder actions and wiser words, and a similarly sarcastic tone can be found on the fourth single, “Cool” — a criticism of people who feel the need to act a certain way to be popular as if they have something to prove. 

Tired of all the fakeness, Close just wants people to be authentic and not change themselves to fit in, which is a sentiment shared by the second single, “Crazy Kind” — an indie pop banger about living life spontaneously that was inspired by a last-minute trip to Barcelona, Spain that she took in 2018. It’s a celebration of being young, carefree, and having a free spirit that’s slightly more experimental in comparison to the previous tracks, adding to the project’s varied, yet cohesive sound.

Also sporting slightly experimental elements likely owed to production from English producer and prominent PC Music member EASYFUN, “You Say” marks a tonal shift in the record from upbeat bops to more emotional numbers about love and heartbreak and sees Close describing a failing relationship.

The following tracks — “Patterns”; the third single, “Almost”; and “Stay” — further this narrative with a dreamy, synth pop sound reminiscent of American singer-songwriter and actress Taylor Swift’s work with American singer-songwriter and producer Jack Antonoff, especially “Patterns” — a highly emotional empowerment anthem for people who feel lost that encourages them to seek out love to help them heal.

“Almost” and “Stay” close the record by showcasing the thoughts and feelings of two people in a strained relationship. The former is sung from the perspective of someone who nearly walked out on their partner but decided to stay at the last moment in order to make amends, ultimately finding happiness and building a home with them, and the latter is sung from the perspective of the other person as they beg their lover not to leave.

While I think it was a cool idea to present two sides of the same situation, “Almost” should have been the closing track instead of “Stay”, as the former is the resolution or happy ending to the latter, and it’s confusing to have the ending of a story precede the beginning, especially in the context of this album. It would have made a lot more sense for “Stay” to have come before “Almost”, thus bringing a satisfying end to the project, but it’s still a strong body of work nonetheless.

Although she may have been dropped by her label, Sarah Close has proven that she can hold her own with And Now, We’re Shining, which is available now across all online and streaming platforms.

Stream And Now, We’re Shining on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6hsl8s8m3Le812hnQfrNAv?si=S0C4E7_LQ8ii67sLSXI_Iw 

Watch the music video for “You Say”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khJJc3mTNmc

Close in the music video for “You Say”.