When It All Goes Down

Sarah King

Ringleader, 2024


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Have you ever wondered what Adele would sound like if she took a turn towards more bluesy material that poured out the pain of one’s soul?

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Sarah King. Her solo debut effort When It All Goes Down has that vocal richness backed by some fairly powerful songwriting that will keep you locked in for most of the disc’s 12 selections. And while there is still some room to grow, it does suggest that King is going to be an absolute powerhouse if given the right opportunities and breaks.

With lyrics drenched in equal parts pathos and booze, King plows through 11 originals (as well as one cover which, on the surface, might have seemed sacrilegious—more on that in a moment), all delivered with a voice that sounds like King has been dragged to the point of despair but, despite it all, she’s seeing the light of the road ahead.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the opening track “Lord Take My Soul,” the listener will find that King’s work is akin to slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers; we might have heard such styles before, but they’re always welcome presences. On tracks like “The Longest Night” and “Pretty Things,” King and her backing band keep that level of comfort well maintained—even if the pattern does begin to wear a little thin by the album’s closer “Devil’s Try.”

Granted, When It All Goes Down is an album that was birthed from sorrow and loss—but unless you had the press kit in front of you, one might not know that immediately, and the listener could find themselves hoping for at least one song with an upbeat message (“Stronger Than You Ever Knew” certainly qualifies).

It is here that the choice to cover Led Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do” comes into play. Tackling any song from such an established band—especially a song that, until not terribly long ago, was only available as a b-side—poses significant risk, as people such as myself hold the original to extremely high standards (something Hootie & The Blowfish failed to take into account way back when). Fortunately, King and crew stay fairly close to the source material, and they turn in a respectable version.

While When It All Goes Down is a solid effort, one does walk away from it with the feeling that King and her band are capable of even greater things. It’s not that this album is bad—to the contrary, it’s that it almost feels as if they were holding back their power a few notches. If this is indeed the case, then their next outing should be explosively good. For now, this is a very respectable first step.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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