40 Below Records
More Twang and Emotion Than a Pickup Truck Full of Beer Swigging Cowboy Hatted Texans.
Sara Petite hails from Washington state, and is currently based in San Diego, but has more twang in her little finger than a pickup truck full of cowboy hatted Texans.
The Empress, her seventh album, features more of Petite’s excellent songwriting, the usual well-crafted lyrics, and hey, it sounds as if she’s having a blast, which is always a huge bonus if rarer than you’d think.
Petite has a way of embodying the characters in her songs without losing herself in the process, and her brand of barn burning Country is drop dead hilarious one minute and serious as a heart attack the next, without losing sight of those three chords and the truth.
A little bit trailer trash, some good old-fashioned Honky-Tonk, a smattering of Outlaw Country cheekiness, combined with just enough dive bar earthiness to keep it honest, and then a bang-up rollicking band that’s sure to clear the cobwebs out of any drinking establishment to back her up.
Petite rocks out hard on these eleven tunes.
More Alt-Country than Americana, with a few forays gloriously nearer to punk, the production by Grammy nominee Eric Corne is focused and sharp, but evenly rocky and brittle when needed.
Petite kicks off the album with “God Save the Queen,” a mission statement from Mother Earth herself—this tune snarls and punches all the way to the last note.
“Forbidden Fruit” is lighter in jest, but just as heavy in truth with lines like:
“This apple’s ripe for picking
I’ll show you what I like
Come a little closer, honey
Close enough to bite
There’s more if you get hungry
Hanging high up in the tree
Do I tempt you baby
Or do you tempt me?”
The challenging and Country-Noir of “Lead the Parade/Meet Me on the Other Side” contemplates death from the perspective of one who has passed.
Accepting, yet not tearful.
Honest, not mournful.
The gospel-tinged coda really makes this one work.
“That Was You and Me” is a goodbye to an old lover, but with plenty of musical twists and turns—the kind of romance that’s doomed from the start.
Quite often it’s the explosive relationships here that are the most memorable, and also the most heartbreaking.
“She’s Come Undone” is someone falling apart, yet unapologetic and “Bringing Down The Neighbourhood” sounds like it could be a tribute to George and Tammy; and there’s a good chance that if time travel was possible, the couple would undoubtedly sing it themselves.
When you first unwrap the CD your eyes will be drawn to a song called The Mistress; and if you’re already a Sara Petite fan you’ll be tempted to skim straight to it; and if you do this pedal-steel drenched heartbreaker will be worth the entrance fee alone … these days only Sara Petite can write and deliver such a classy and sad song like the Queens of Country did in the 50’s and 60’s.
Listening to an album full of feisty songs like I Want You So Bad coupled to the subtly sweet Tread Softly and the stunning title track The Empress; it’s easy to hear why Petite is a five-time International Songwriting Competition finalist, with a fan base many radio friendly ‘Country Stars’ would be proud of.
Great songs, fully-embodied lyricism, and a no holds barred approach to her craft, Petite is still shaking things up two decades into an already storied musical career.
Long live the queen.
Released 9th June 2023
Review by The Legendary Roy Peak
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