From Peoria, Illinois comes the truly unique sound of Sarah Schonert. With the release of her new album titled My Unwinding State, Sarah Schonert is clearly not focusing on sounding like just another cookie cutter musician, and whenever an artist chooses to walk a path this far from the status quo, polarizing opinions are going to abound.
Opening with the song “6 O Clock”, it doesn’t take long to hear some of Sarah Schonert's obvious musical influences: David Bowie, Alanis Morrisette, and potentially Kate Bush. Although this song is strangely mixed from a clean beautiful piano into an 80’s inspired synth, it does show the creative way that Sarah Schonert chooses to piece her songs together. Unlike many artists that choose to fill their songs with metaphors and poetic descriptions, Sarah Schonert chooses to say it flat, plainly, and straight.
“Maybe I” is a slower song filled with sentiment and softness. It captures the vulnerable and fragile state that the album itself seems to revel in. Still with the straight, in-your-face, lyrics, “Maybe I” is a sweet, basic song that many will like more on the second listen, which is not uncommon with albums that choose to challenge the listener the way this one does with its very unorthodox style.
The final track, titled “Stained And Smiling,” is a haunting track with layers of vocals tripping one over another, and like all of Sarah Schonert’s tracks, the piano is used to hold it all together. Everything about “Stained And Smiling” is soft and airy, and in many ways very melancholic in its emotion.
My Unwinding State by Sarah Schonert is a strange creature, to say the least. On one hand, it has the classical elements of grand pianos and soft high-pitched vocals, while on the other hand it embraces synthesizers and vocalizers.
As much as it has beauty, it also has an uncomfortable eeriness to it as well. The albums strengths are clearly in Sarah Schonert’s ability to play piano, but where she is weakest is in her vocals; there are moments of controlled skill, but unfortunately, there are far too many pitchy and oddly-sung moments to overlook.
If you are an ambitious listener who likes to hear something new, then My Unwinding State is for you. However, if you enjoy radio-friendly music that follows a specific, socially acceptable pattern of songwriting, then I suggest that you steer clear of this creative beast.