It’s not hard to fall immediately in thrall to Sara Petite’s sound. From the first (title) song of her new album, Road Less Traveled, the only possible response is a big smile, a tapping foot and a willingness to go wherever she’s taking us. There is a jauntiness to the track that is infectious, but the key is Petite’s voice: round and warm even as it delivers a wink and a nod to the listener.
This is not to suggest that the whole album runs in this vein – it does not, as Petite is a well-rounded artist who can also deliver sadness, reflectiveness and pathos, and it all clearly comes from the heart. Mind you, even the break-up song ‘Getting Over You’ has a swinging beat, so while Petite explores the end of a relationship she also sounds like she doesn’t regret it. And ‘I Will Rise’ is not a self-pitying rumble through hard knocks but, rather, a proclamation.
The musical style of these songs is swampy country: the tunes are laced with banjo, horns make an appearance, and there’s some prominent electric guitar as well. Country suits Petite – and so does rock and blues. These are all genres of music that do not support sugar-coating and Petite certainly sounds like she is not interested in anything other than the truth. Happily, she has found a way to meld them into a sound that is gloriously hers. She sounds like she belongs in an LA bar as much as a Nashville stage, and she could also sit by the side of a road with a guitar and churn out tunes for passers-by. She has a drive to communicate that goes right along with her willingness to sing from the heart, and accordingly she will find audiences everywhere.