Own Sweet Time

Kristin Sweetland

Arbora Vita Music, 2007


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


About five years ago, I wrote a rave review of Canadian Kristin Sweetland's debut album. In that review, I said, “If this is the root, I look forward to seeing the flower; I suspect it’ll be something special.”Well, we finally have a first look at the flower; Sweetland has finally released her follow-up CD, Own Sweet Time. The question is – what does it smell like?

(We shall now pause to give the metaphor a moment to recover, O Ye DV Faithful. I rather ran that sucker into the ground, didn’t I?)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sweetland is still producing mature, intelligent music far beyond her years. The liner notes alone are a hilarious, saddening, thought-provoking, and quirky expansion of where she was when she wrote the songs, and even if half the stories are true she lives a more interesting life than any ten of us. Her guitar playing is still incredible – flexible, supple, and amazingly diverse, the strings chiming and growling like stars.

The difference is harder to quantify. If I had to stick my neck out and name it, I’d say that Own Sweet Time is much more a folk album, first and foremost. There are some rock and pop elements, especially on “Lily” and “Glorious Enemy,” but on the whole, Sweetland’s sound seems more firmly based in an acoustic tradition. She’s also matured as a songwriter; there are astonishing turns of phrase on this album that left me breathless in their ability to paint a picture or tell a story. “Hotel Esmeralda,” “The Fox Fires,” and “Xanadu” are all first and foremost works of literature that happen to involve great music. Add in the excellent instrumentals of “Vanquished” and “Three Pipe Night” (which in my universe gets bonus points for referring to Sherlock Holmes) and you have a solid work that left me wanting more.

If I have a complaint – and it’s a minor one – it’s that the closing track, “The Compass Rose,” seemed a rough stylistic fit at best after the raucous, joyous harmony vocals of “La Fin Du Monde.” I don’t know if I would have swapped the tracks or just left “Rose” off, but the transition seemed a little awkward to me, and “Rose” is not as strong a track as preceding songs.

Kristin Sweetland did, indeed, take her Own Sweet Time on this, and the wait was worth it. I hope it’s not five years until the next bloom on the rose.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arbora Vita Music, and is used for informational purposes only.