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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)
Website: sarapetite.com

Sara Petite: "Lead the Parade"

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molly June 29, 2009 @ 11:02 a.m.

Wow! You have obviously never seen Sara Petite perform live with any of her bands. She is truly professional and captures the crowd with her charm, talent, and stage presence every time. She has also won numerous songwriting competitions and her songs have been placed on country compilations with the likes of Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams.

I've been to several of Petite's shows, and every time I introduce someone to her music, they are impressed with the melding of rock, country, and bluegrass elements (ie "Americana"), and come away smiling and energized from all the positive energy her performance gives you.

The critic who wrote this column should do a little research before simply spouting her unimformed opinions, and perhaps experience the artist's work in person (it's not so difficult, these musicians are all local) before stating that the music would only resonate in a barn. It's very insulting to an amazing writer and performer. She is a gem of the San Diego music scene, and her work resonates everywhere she goes.


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