REVIEW: Sara Petite’s “Rare Bird” Is Breathtakingly Beautiful R
March 6, 2021 John Michael Antonio
As a music fan, every once in a while an album comes along so fresh, so new, so exciting in its sound that it is breathtaking – that is, it makes you want to stop what you are doing and listen to it in all of its awesome beauty and splendor.
Such was my response upon first listening to Rare Bird, the new album from singer-songwriter Sara Petite. On this, her sixth LP, Petite sounds like a 21st-century combination of so many different female Americana / country artists that it is hard to keep track. Listening to these dazzling songs, I hear elements of Patsy, Wanda, Dolly, Loretta, Emmylou, and a bevy of others.
Truth be told, much like the title of the record, Petite is that rare artist who is so original in her sound that she can’t be pinned down to any or two influences. While the music that you hear in this collection sounds familiar, it also sounds distinctive and unique.
With her superlative band backing her, Petite offers up a grand assortment of diverse songs on this LP. There are songs that sound like instant honky-tonk classics (“Feeling Like An Angel,” “Floating With The Angels”), that are blazing, irresistible country-rockers (“Runnin’,” “Crash, Boom, Bang,” “The Misfits”, Medicine Man”), that are deeply emotional classic country powerhouses (“Scars,” the titular track “Rare Bird,” “Missing You Tonight”), that are soulful ( “Keep On Moving”) and that sound like old-time gospel (“Working On a Soul”).
This album alternately made me want to sing along, dance, and yes, even cry (the titular track) and it’s my feeling that if this record doesn’t move you in some similar way, you should probably check your pulse.
At this stage in her career, Petite has refined her sound to a point where she sounds like the future of Americana / country to me in that it is a sound that is rooted in the past but is also looking forward with a singular specialness that sets her apart and should inspire younger artists to follow suit. Let’s hope they do.
Rare Bird (JTM Music) was co-produced by Sara Petite and Ben Moore and is now available on her website.
Sara Petite/Rare Bird/independent release
Four out of Five Stars
Sara Petite covers a lot of bases, and for that reason alone, any attempt at typecasting becomes something of a challenge. Some 15 years into a career launched by her debut disc, Tiger Mountain, in 2006, she’s still writing and recording her songs from a personal perspective and finding common ground with her listeners all at the same time. A vast array of accolades have continued to affirm that appeal, among them, the various awards she’s won in several songwriting competitions as well as her ongoing residence within the higher realms of the Americana charts.
The fact that she also draws an international audience underscores her universal appeal, but it also takes only a single listen to Petite’s new album, Rare Bird, to understand why that’s so. Co-produced with engineer Ben Moore, it’s easily her most confident—and, indeed, varied —set of songs to date, one which not only finds her flexing more of her musical muscle, but also spotlighting an array of styles that aptly reflect her diverse delivery. Whether it’s the engaging entreaty of “Feeling Like an Angel,” the rowdy and rousing drive of the aptly titled “Runnin’,” the reflection and resilience of “Scars,” or the robust refrain found in “Crash, Boom, Bang,” Petite imbues muscle in her muse and emerges with her credence and confidence intact.
The song titled “The Misfits,” an especially unrepentant rocker, aptly sums up her sentiments:
We are the Misfits,
We are the ones;
We are the rebels
With the smoking guns.
We are the outlaws,
We are the thieves;
We’ll steal your heart
With a broken melody.
Clearly, Petite is capable of doing exactly that, although coercion is rarely involved. Likewise, when “Floating With the Angels” finds her falling back on the honky-tonk persona she birthed early on, it’s clear she’s still capable of providing a sweet serenade, and with it, the resolve to make her case clear. That’s also evident in the sway and sentiment of “Keep Moving On” as well as the album’s closing entry, “Working On a Soul.” A resolute declaration of purpose and principle, it begins with a flourish before settling into a sing-along that accelerates exponentially as the song unfolds. “I’m working on a soul, I’ll be a hundred years old, working on a soul.”
Clearly, she’s accomplished quite a bit with that work so far. Rare Bird reflects a sturdy soul throughout.