IT WAS A VIDEO of an original song which first grabbed my attention, prompting this review of debut album Say Hello to You from 20-year-old British vocalist and guitarist Sarah Munro.
Already having caught the ears of Jamie Cullum and Tom Robinson, Sarah has, to date, played Cheltenham Jazz Festival, opened for both Clare Teal and Jimmy Webb, and is due to continue to support soul artist Paul Carrack on his forthcoming 24-date UK tour. Melding gentle, folksy singer/songwriter pop and jazz, this first release relies substantially on keyboards and programming for its polished arrangements. However, it’s the promise of Munro’s sit-up-and-listen voice, her guitar-playing confidence and her maturity as a songwriter which suggests this is a name destined for success.
Ten original tracks – plus an emotional rendition of Johnny Mercer’s Autumn Leaves – reveal the extent of Sarah Munro’s indubitable musicality; and flying in the face of reality TV and quick-fix fame, the control and passion she conveys through her silken voice is consistently magnetic. Opening numbers Say Hello to You and Fool Forever are delivered with impeccable poise and diction (oboe interludes redolent of Mike Batt’s chart hits), and Make It Your Own‘s country guitar is endearing, as is bossa-beat Crazy Game. Dreamily elegant Paint the World offers a hint of nostalgia (even a smidgen of ‘Whispering Grass’) thanks to the purity of Munro’s strings-backed vocal; and the memorable, melodic hooks of Lovebird and Goodbye Mr Moonlight feel effortless. Irish-inflected ballad Young Heart recalls Leo Sayer, whilst Little Sister‘s attractive, easy-going Hammond groove indicates why the artistic match with Paul Carrack must be so strong.
Frequently this album’s unaffected simplicity veers into easy-listening, with smooth-jazz inflections (Katie Melua could be a parallel). But it’s imaginable that, one day, Sarah Munro might collaborate with a creative combo or lush big band (word has it that a Christmas single, with string arrangement, is due for release); and combining such a magical voice with her guitar fluency, she should surely rise to prominence.
Oh… and that beautiful video performance – For Eternity.
Released on 14 September 2016, Say Hello to You is available from Amazon.
Sarah Munro voice, guitar, ukulele, composition/lyrics
M Munro guitar, electronic instrumentation/programming, composition
Self-produced – FLBCD001 (2016)