Sara Petite – The Empress
This young lady’s forte is loaded with a creative edge as she kicks hard well within a roadhouse framework with honky-tonk credibility. She scintillates with a bit of twang & bangs away with roots rock 2 by 4’s. Yes, I’m exaggerating — but the woman has a Janis Joplin crossed with Loretta Lynn country spirit. I guess she likes what she’s doing & that rubs off on us potato chip-eating, beer-drinking, chili scoopers who need an empress to cuddle us vocally & safely through our universal struggles. Let me catch my breath.
The outlaw country singer-songwriter Sara Petite’s (lead vocals) exploration of dive bars, trailer parks & other American vacation spots on this 11-cut Eric Corne (bgv/percussion) produced The Empress (Drops June 9–Forty Below Records). It embodies varied passionate characters. It includes a hell-raising hillbilly heroine with addictions to legal & illegal lubricants & she does it with sincere old-school country sour mash sprinkled throughout each tune (for flavor). An interesting perspective maintained & told by a strong female viewpoint with songs tightly embraced in persuasive melodies.
There’s also, as evident in cut 1 “God Save the Queen,” a country-punk attitude adjustment. Done rather well too. The CD cover art should’ve been something more dive bar oriented. Think early Rolling Stones & Velvet Underground. A sleazy sticky old jukebox image would suffice. Sara leaning over the selection lights with an unfiltered cigarette burning down to her fingers. A tattoo on her arm of Rasputin with a banjo. Ah, the world of deviancy.
“Forbidden Fruit,” borders on doo-wop & “That Was You and Me,” with its oom-pah-pah beat intertwined with Sara’s stinging lyrics…nice. She has an abundance of grit. However, “Tread Softly,” sweetened by the finger-snapping finds Sara in an entirely different gear. She sings beautifully, a soft old-school ballad with fragile lyrics. Her country roots are well-established here. Her credibility as a country singer: solidified. An excellent transition.
Out comes the Nanci Griffith-Iris DeMent vocal dynamic with her delightful John Prine-styled “Bringin’ Down the Neighborhood,” — nothing short of electrifying parlando. At times Ms. Petite has that DeMent tone that Iris used with John in “In Spite of Ourselves.” She would’ve been a good partner for the late Mr. Prine.
A touch of Cajun magic surfaces on “Le Petit Saboteur,” – a colorful musical excursion. It all comes down to an impressive set by a lovely energetic & sassy lady.
Highlights – “God Save the Queen,” “Forbidden Fruit,” “That Was You & Me,” “Tread Softly,” “Bringin’ Down the Neighborhood,” “Le Petit Saboteur” & “The Empress.”
Musicians – Bobby Furgo (piano/organ/Wurlitzer/fiddle), Michael Kastner (drums), Jeff Berkley (electric & acoustic guitars), Billy Watts (electric guitar), Bob “Boo” Bernstein (pedal steel) & Jorge Calderon (bass).
Color image courtesy of Sara’s website. CD @ https://fortybelowrecords.com/store/p/sara-petite-the-empress & https://sarapetite.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: REVIEW: Sara Petite’s “Rare Bird” Is Breathtakingly Beautiful