Sara Petite, at first listen, sounds not unlike a (very) country version of Metric’s Emily Haines, but the similarities stop there; where Haines’s voice possesses an ethereal quality, Petite’s has the confident folk twang of a childhood performer. Against a banjo backdrop, her album is 12 tracks of “Americana,” a fancy word for, it would seem, any country music that is not Top 40 material.
In one of the more puzzling bluegrass traditions, many of Petite’s songs are at a breakneck speed (“Little House,” for example), rife with mandolin and guitar-picking patterns that, at times, overpower the vocals. Petite’s style, however traditionally “country,” is sweet, while the backing instrumentals tend to be too cute.
Breaking the mold slightly is the track “Paris Incident,” which features well-placed elements of country (a pleasant violin interlude, most notably), and “Heaven Bound” is a calm interlude among the frantically paced songs.
Lyrically, Petite is not the most advanced; for example, on “Little House,” she proclaims, “My little dog’s the size of a pollywog,” perhaps the album’s weakest point. Overall, it’s a good choice for a square dance but may not resonate beyond the barn.
Album: Lead the Parade (2009)
Artist: Sara Petite
Label: Manatease Records
Where available/price: sarapetite.com for $12.99; iTunes for $9.99
Songs: 1) Lead the Parade 2) The Secret 3) Little House 4) Paris Incident 5) Heaven Bound 6) Buy Me a Ticket 7) Coming on Strong 8) Dead Man Walking 9) Uncle Irving 10) Little Girl 11) Six Smiles 12) Moonshine
Band: Sara Petite (guitar, vocals), Jesse Harris (electric guitar, bass), Rick Wilkins (electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals), Shawn Rohlf (banjo), Steve Peavey (banjo, mandolin, lap steel, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals), Dave Banjoski (banjo, guitar), Chris Clarke (mandolin, guitar, harmonies), Jim Austin (upright bass), Annie Dru (harmony vocals)