Sara Hickman Spiritual Appliances (Shanachie)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Feb. 18, 2000
Spiritual Appliances (Shanachie)There are quite a few things to admire about Sara Hickman's sixth album, Spiritual Appliances. For the first time, the local singer-songwriter has produced an album herself, and it rocks just a bit more than anything she's done in the past; the drums are a bit louder, the guitar solos a bit more angular. Throughout, Hickman impresses with her sonic adventurousness, constantly showing that she's not afraid to take chances. There are songs built from the basic beginnings of an acoustic guitar and the singer singing sweetly that end in a near roar, while other tunes lead a chorus of whistlers through a pleasant bit of sentimentality and later, even a lush string section. The collection's centerpiece is "Woman Waiting to Happen," where she asserts herself as a woman ("I'm an eagle waiting to scream"), while entering musical territory she's never approached with swirling strings and brawny horns sending the tune into the stratosphere. One of Hickman's favorite metaphors reappears with the inclusion of "Each Other's Angel," a moving song of loyalty and trust that ends with a "heavenly chorus" fading into the ether. At times, Hickman's word play can be a bit too cutesy and overdone, but that's a minor point some may disregard considering the lightheartedness that pervades her music. The last song on Spiritual Appliances, "I'm Not Going Anywhere," is a proclamation of Sara Hickman's renewed vitality. It's a fitting way to wrap things up by assuring her fans that they can count on her for an adventurous musical journey.