I could not account for the visceral grip that this record took on me from the beginning. I just had to go with it. It just laid a soft firm hand under the top of my ribcage that made me slow down, and take deeper breaths. "Ssshh...tell that guy upstairs to go away."
I reserve a special enjoyment for those few records and those rare artists for whom the rest of what's going on seems to have little bearing. The ones that take you places that, unless you go with this person who knows the way, you may never find.
Even on the surface of things, many aspects of Sara K's profile are unusual. She is a four-string guitarist, an instrument of serendipitous or accidental origin, now handmade for her by manzanita guitars. She is a creature of the high desert of the Southwest, far better known in Europe than she is in her country. Her music has been championed by (at least) two German geniuses in their own right, one of them now departed. He is, was, Chris Jones, one of the greatest acoustic guitar players of the age. He and Sara K. did many tours together, before his very untimely demise.
The other is Günter Pauler, the owner of Stockfisch Records, in Northeim, Germany. It is a very inspired label that makes audiophile recordings of unique artists.
Through the years, I have heard (more than) my share of female singer songwriters who reminded one of some aspect or other of the work of Joni Mitchell in one period or another. But it's usually a turn of melody, a turn of phrase, in passing. I don't say it lightly, but there are parts of Hell Or High Water that to my ears recall the very essence of Joni's work at her zenith. But, one is led to believe, she is and was a creature more of the mountains and the sea than of the desert.
In our occasional correspondence over the years, I have long thought Sara K. to be someone I must meet in this lifetime that is always both arriving and departing, and now more than ever. We think you must meet her too, and encourage you to go straight to the clips on the Listen page to hear whom we are talking about. • Frank Goodman
our review of an earlier Sara K. album