I had the absolute honor of checking out ‘Good Gracious! Bad People.’ by Sarah and The Safe Word last October. It was instant love. From the sense of theatre to the fact that the album could seriously be for anyone, it was just perfect and became a staple in my daily playlist. ‘Good Gracious! Bad People.’ was their 2020 release and I have been meaning to spend some time with their 2019 album, ‘Red Hot & Holy’. Well, that time has finally come and after greedily tearing the plastic wrap off the CD, I jammed it into my stereo, hit play, and rushed back to my desk so I didn’t miss a single second.
Just over a minute long, “Invocation” invites you into this ten-song album with a sense of mystery and intrigue. A little creepy but so full of drama, I was right where this band had me the first time I heard them- in the middle of their palm. “Red Hot & Holy” comes up quickly after the quick intro. It kicks off with chords of power before hitting a stride that is very reminiscent of Panic at The Disco if they had never gotten rid of their theatrical aspect. The beat on this “first” track is slow and steady but there’s no denying the amount of energy that comes from the persistent keyboard part and the vocals that force you to keep your ears close to the speakers as to not miss a single word.
“The Louisville Shuffle (RIP)” starts off with an old-timey fiddle part that, you guessed it, draws you in with ease before Sarah Rose’s vocals bring in even more drama. One thing that really struck me about this band when I heard them the first time is their storytelling ability and that still reigns true throughout this older album. I refuse to give away any of the stories so I’m going to try my best to refrain from bringing up lyrics throughout this review because I truly think you just have to hear them and listen to this as a whole to really get the genius that has been put into it.
I love the jazzy intro to “Sneaky Boy” and it made this an instant favorite of mine. The intro lays out a very vaudevillian mood and I feel like that continues throughout this track. IT’s as if there are separate acts throughout this single three-and-a-half-minute song. I honestly found myself imagining watching an act at an old school theatre with the red velvet seats (come on, you know the one). Not only is this group amazing at storytelling- they nail really taking you away from wherever you are. Whether they take you to a live show or to a vaudeville show- they just have this ability to convey so much passion in their recordings that it’s truly unbelievable.
“Dead Girls Tell No Tales” starts off with a high-seas feeling. Think pirates and super cool pirate ships. As a huge fan of Viking and pirate metal bands like Trollfest and Alestorm, I instantly loved this track. I also feel like this new vibe really goes to prove how creative this band is. Even though it’s a whole new sound, there’s no denying who is singing this song. Just when I was about to go grab some rum and really play up this song, the album moved onto “Formula 666”. I guess it makes sense that this track would start with the sound of revving engines (you know, the whole “Formula 666” title) but it still caught me off guard. Like the other tracks, this opening snippet really set the stage and made this song feel a bit like a race. The beat is hurried, the sound big, honestly, not to be too cliche, it’s a good driving song like the kind you would blare while driving down an open highway.
“Learning the Truth at Last” is the quickest song on this album and acts as a little bridge in the perfect way. It’s an acoustic feeling track very in the vein of Panic at the Disco’s’ Pretty Odd’ album. It’s a fun and light break in an otherwise fairly dramatic and almost heavy album but it also added to the drama as it faded out and gave way to “Dig A Fancy Grave” which had me dancing around my living room like a full. This was another instant favorite of mine. It’s a super fun track with an extremely anthemic and catchy chorus. There’s a sense of power in this one that makes it absolutely unforgettable and the “la la la’s” are nothing but ear-wormy.
I really want to crack a joke about the title of “Your Mouth Is Only For Complimenting Our Dances” being a sad attempt to keep the long song titles alive from the days of the early 2000’s pop-punk scene but this song left me lost for words. All words. Although Sarah and the Safe Word does dramatic oh so well and it can be felt throughout this album, I feel like it really hits a high point in this track. At times, the instrumentation sounds a bit like a tango with dramatically emphasized beats but then you get a chorus that’s nothing short of boppy and dancy. The contrast shouldn’t work but it doesn’t even feel like contrast when you listen to this track as a whole.
I hate when great albums like this have to come to an end but at least this one ends with “Lit Cigarette”. Instead of going out softly, this album ends with a sense of triumphant power. It’s as if the band wants to remind you that you will not be forgetting this album anytime soon so let’s go out with a giant bang. From jazzy to catchy to dramatic- this final track has it all and ends this album in the type of way that makes you want to go back to the beginning and start the journey all over again.
Sarah and The Safe Word is one of those bands that hit me the first time I heard them and, since then, has done no wrong. What a talented and creative group of musicians and people. I absolutely can not wait until shows come back after this pandemic mess. I will be driving wherever I have to catch these guys live.
Favorite Track(s): “Sneaky Boy”; “Dig A Fancy Grave”
For Fans Of: Creativity; Drama; Good Music
Dance-ability: 8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats hid upstairs because I kept turning the volume up
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 10 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 9.8 out of 10
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