Many who don’t know Sara Radle from Lucy Loves Schoeder in the early ‘00s may recognize her as part of Matt Sharp’s (Weezer) The Rentals from 2006-2009. Her expressive voice is still sweet and tangy. But much of her latest solo album Four bears too strong a resemblance to her previous works.
Radle recorded this album with help from a fundraising campaign conducted on Kickstarter.com. She sings and plays guitar. Playing the other instruments are bassist Andrew Binovi and drummer Rob Schumacher from her old band Lucy Loves Schroeder, and guitarist Adam from her other band, Walking Sleep. Four continues the style of Calamity Magnet, another band of hers now on hiatus. It’s a mix of pop, country, rock and ‘60s girl groups. She adds to that the Wall of Sound vocal harmonies so popular at the moment. She also dabbles in loungey jazz with the song “Superstar.”
Radle possesses a great crossover country and pop voice. She articulates each emotional beat in songs like the Broadway musical-styled “Lucy,” and the Grand Ole Opry-like duet “A + K.” Her voice comes through so clear, it’s like she’s whispering in your ear.
Once again, Radle uses complex arrangements in her songs. Piano, violins, glockenspiels and other instruments fit perfectly with the guitar, bass and drums. What’s missing is Calamity Magnet guitarist Joe Bourdet’s jangly Fender Stratocaster adding in spice and twang. Four needs a little more of that.
Radle spreads four one-minute-long tracks evenly throughout the album. They resemble more moody interludes or song fragments than true songs. It’d be amazing to hear selections like “Morning Light” and “Chicago” develop into fully realized ideas rather than impressions. The artsy approach does nothing but pad the running time out to a short feeling 40 minutes. Besides “Lucy” and “A+K,” “The Baxter Hill” and “Over Now” are the only exceptions in what is an average album for Radle.