The great temptation for young artists has always been to try and be something they are not. To put on a costume so to speak, and play make believe. It’s a pitfall that, thankfully, SAHARA BECK spotted years back, and she ain’t going there.
There are no big name producers and over the top stylists here, Sahara is an independent artist in the truest sense of the word – an artist finding her own sound and in the process emerging as not just another remarkable voice.
It’s always been that way for her though. Raised in the laid back surrounds of the Sunshine Coast Sahara has always had a decidedly single minded focus. At 14 she wrote and recorded her debut album before moving to Brisbane on her own to finish school and immerse herself in the city’s collaborative music community.
New songs came in a rush, releasing 2013’s You Could Be Happy EP, followed by last year’s BLOOM – both releases capturing her growing confidence and sense of self as both an artist and young woman.
She has heart this girl and a bit of torture driving it. Music for the folk tent, the warm production and top-shelf performance make Beck a premium artist finding new ways to separate herself. Sydney Morning Herald
With support from radio across the country, the response to those releases made ears prick up around the Australia and overseas. But while her songwriting has grown immeasurably, it’s been on stage that Sahara has truly taken some gigantic leaps.
Gone is the tentativeness of youth – replaced by a passion that captures her love of foot to the floor jazz and rock, as much as melt your heart tender moments. Working with an ever-evolving crew of musicians, she has toured the country and performed at countless festivals (Bluesfest, Queenscliff, BIGSOUND, The Planting, CMF) while sharing the stage with artists including Ben Lee, Art of Sleeping, Darren Middleton, Katie Noonan and numerous more.
And if there was a ‘moment’ though, it was Sahara’s breakthrough set at BIGSOUND 2015. A performance that saw her finding her sweet spot, and dragging a packed house into her orbit – evidenced by the buzz around the conference the next morning and uniformly glowing reviews:
A thundering sound, drawing from country and old rock’n’roll and rockabilly and soul all channelling into a righteous hotheaded face-slap of a situation, equal parts Eilen Jewell and Lindi Ortega, a songwriting nous belying Sahara Beck’s 19 years of age with a band as solid as Willie Nelson’s green habit to back it up and then more, more, more. Pick of the week thus far, hands down. TheMusic
Beck’s voice is a tempest, gale force one minute, sultry the next, right back up to the heavens and beyond. Impressive, in a word. Rhythms Magazine
And it is that energy that she has poured into the production of new album PANACEA – out May 2016 through Create Control.
Built around a week long session at the legendary 301 Byron Bay studios – just days before it closed for good – the record may be full of experimentation, but it never strays from the simple formula of wonderful songs performed with genuine passion.
Working with long time collaborator and engineer Jeff Lovejoy, Sahara and her band had one of those recording experiences most artists dream about. Everything just clicked with her ambitious arrangements and wildly diverse influences – from jazz and soul to glitchy beats – gelling together into something that feels completely new.
The first taste of the record – Here It Comes – is a case in point. Lyrically direct, full of head spinning melody and built on an irresistible groove, it packs a sting in the tail that seems to come from nowhere, yet makes complete sense. Deeply personal, Sahara explains the song talks to the pressure, vulnerability and anxiety many of us feel dealing with day-to-day life. Looking a universal theme from a personal angle, the song is an exercise in pressure and release.
For all its diversity and imagination though, PANACEA is a collection of songs connected by an unmistakable honesty and identity. The most exciting part though is this album is just the beginning.