Date: February 01, 2005
From: Edge Boston
"Shadowed" by Sacha Sacket
by Hugh Ryan, Edge Entertainment Coordinator
As a homo who grew up thinking I was oh-so-original for listening to Tori Amos and being depressed in high school, I am a sucker for any musician with a piano, a couple of oblique suicide songs, and a few sardonic God references. Thankfully, there are a plethora of such artists on the market these days. Unfortunately, most of them are bad enough to make me actually want to commit suicide. When the rare musician of this type who is truly talented comes along, though, it makes you pay attention. It brings you back to those long ago study hall periods spent in the bathroom with your walkman blasting, trying to dry your eyes, fix your ruined mascara and figure out how to cut gym class. Or maybe that's just me.
Regardless, Sacha Sacket is a very talented piano-player and singer, with a beautiful layered sound. And what's more, he's a boy, a rarity in this genre of music. On his new album Shadowed, he has produced a complex set of songs that show off his skills and grow more enchanting every time they are played. It's nice to have a talented, out gay man writing performing songs of love and loss – such as on the title track of the album, where he sings "Can you clean this mess/My boy's stuck to me and/I'm a sinking ship/He's the saddest thing I know/Has no friends or foes/Why are both our souls/So Shadowed?" The album as a whole has a good flow to it, with both the piano and the electronic aspects of it blending together to create an auditory backdrop that would work well for an intimate dinner, a sad break-up montage in a gay movie, or a sex scene in a really classy "art" film. In particular, "The Prodigal" is an amazing piece of songsmanship, and one that I know I will include on mix-tapes to boys who will never like me as much as I like them for years to come.
This is not to say that there is no room for improvement, however. While Sacha is clearly a talented musician, there are a few tracks on this album where he has taken an obvious misstep, or else allowed someone else too much control over mixing down the CD. On "Kite High!" and "Desire," the fast-paced club beats that provide a backdrop to the songs are a bit distracting, and lead one to believe that a wailing house diva is about to make a cameo appearance, along with 30 or 40 muscled, half-naked go-go boys. Ok, so I wouldn't mind the second part of that... but it does take away from the beauty of the songs.
And it isn't just the powerful emotions with which Shadowed deals that bring me back to high school. At points on the album, the writing is somewhat less than elegant. "Think of your blond hair and tanned skin and all that good stuff," a line from the song "Cruel Attempt," manages to be both lacking in actual descriptive power, and trite in the description it does give. Good job Sacha! And while some artists, such as the aforementioned Tori Amos, may be able to sing a line about purple monkeys and lost shoes and make her listener think "That's exactly how I felt after I had an abortion in the 3rd grade too, Tori!" it is not a skill that most possess. When Sacha sings about confusing his "Persian Gulf with Palestine," I must confess that I was confused too. And not in a good way. As a final tip, when singing a love song, to compare yourself to the child of a rock-star who committed suicide is just a little creepy.
If I hadn't already been given a copy of Shadowed to review, I would definitely purchase it. Sacha Sackett is a musician worth watching. The problem spots on Shadowed are things that seasoning as a musician can help to clear up, while his strengths – his voice and his piano playing – are skills that one must be born with. I'm looking forward to his next album.