US singer’s tragedy-tainted second album could prove to be a timeless wonder.
Ian Wade 2011-03-31
Miami-born and New York-bred, Sarabeth Tucek has come some way along the road of indie dues-paying, having sung back-ups on Smog’s album Supper and appeared in notorious rock-doc DiG!. And it looked like she could cross over into a relative state of superstardom when she released her eponymous debut album in 2007, especially when a certain Bob Dylan popped up to express his admiration of the singer. Said Ethan Johns-produced set also found a fan in Laura Marling, who subsequently recruited the Brit Award nominee to work on her acclaimed I Speak Because I Can. However, things started to go awry, Tucek’s life taking a turn for the worse.
For her second album Tucek elucidates these tribulations, chiefly those connected to her father’s death, and explores related themes throughout the collection. It features moments of true beguilement, and referencing the greats – a bit of Feist here, Throwing Muses there, along with touches of Karen Dalton, Cat Power and Linda Perhacs – together with a musical menu of Neil Young, The Velvet Underground and even a dash of Big Star, helps to make Get Well Soon a marvel. It proves that through the hard times comes sweetness of a kind, a resolving of the personal Hell that is the loss of a parent. Despite its sombre influences, though, this is an earthy and oddly life-enhancing listen.
Opening with the delicate The Wound and the Bow, second track Wooden sets up the album properly as it bursts into life from gentle beginnings – come its end, it’s exuded a pre-concept-addled Pink Floyd rock-out warmth. State I Am In broods Breeders-like into classic Sister Lovers territory, while The Fireman is especially pleasing, Tucek recounting with touching detail a dream she had about her father: "The fireman saved many a home / But the fireman could not save his own." The closing title-track allows her to put some distance between so much grief – the dislocation, pleading and real life’s butting in – and where she is today. It wraps up what must have been a dreadful couple of years, and bookends this collection perfectly.
There are around 20,000 records like this released every year by female troubadours. But there’s something just very right, and really quite splendid, about Get Well Soon. It could well prove to be a timeless little wonder.