New Zealand born, Melbourne-based Sarah Mary Chadwick has announced her eighth studio record Messages to God due out September 15 on Kill Rock Stars and executive produced by award winning producer, Tony Espie (oracle to The Avalanches). Composed of broad, brightly coloured spiritual strokes, it consists of dramatic retellings of having your heart broken, existing, movement and growth while always meditating on the past. While her three most recent records were drenched in grief, the new collection signals a change; whether profound or momentary, time will tell.
Lead single ‘Shitty Town’ is released alongside a bold and playful official video, a dramatized love story breakdown played out on the theatrical stage. Resonant keys and flutes shimmer in the backdrop under Chadwick’s coarse vocals and biting, poetic lyricism. Describing it as ‘leaving a place kind of song’, the theme of being an audience to your own story flows into the song’s lyrics. “I watch through the window at my life,” she sings, “It seems to function/but who’s driving/this shitty car?”
Chadwick is a gifted and singular songwriter, uniquely attuned to the minutiae of human emotion, not unlike Phil Eleverum’s work as Mount Eerie and Daniel Johnston’s adventures on tape. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Chadwick’s songs are unsparing, brutal, and absolutely lovely. A prolific visual artist alongside her songwriting, Chadwick’s cover art of this record mirrors the slight alteration in tone; whereas previously, self-portraits of herself alone fronted her releases, now she has pictured herself amongst a group around a piano. Still not looking at peace, but surrounded by people, nonetheless.
Messages to God is a beautifully realized record. It’s not happy but it is funny and optimistic. It is melodramatic, self-serving and generous. Sometimes, from way back in the shitty seats of the theater, you’re at your closest to god. That’s what this record is like, finding beauty in everyday occurrences. Because it’s there. You just gotta look really hard sometimes. And as Chadwick provides, “Because every day’s just one more day / trying to write messages to god’’.
Messages to God:
- Don’t Tell Me I’m A Good Friend
- I Felt Things In New Zealand
- Angry And Violent
- Drinkin’ On A Tuesday
- Shitty Town
- Sometimes I Just Wanna Feel Bad
- Someone Else’s Baby
- Only Bad Memories Last
- C’mon Stud
- Looked Just Like Jesus