Looking Out And After is the debut album from Sascha Osborn and it’s rather lovely. Take a look at the cover photo – soft focus greenery and a photo of the artist which is as far from power dressing as you could get. It’s a perfect visual for this album – eleven songs which build on Osborn’s eclectic background of poetry, folk, jazz, harmony singing, and some gentle playing.
Osborn’s voice is influenced by both her interest in jazz (try ‘Take A Moment’ for lovely held back vocal over a jazz influenced arrangement) and folk (try ‘Fragile’ a gentle optimistic song “Fragile we are/But together we are strong/As one we will be, as one we’ll be/Living life as one”). Mostly, though, it doesn’t help to have this album formulated, sprawling on a pin, Prufrock-style other than to give a general sense that it fits broadly into this jazz-folk, late-night-easy style with Osborn’s melodic voice leading some smooth, deftly-played songs.
It would be have been easy to overlook the lyrics, losing them in the soundscape, as I sank comfortably into the album. But the lyrics also repay more attention. ‘Tough Talking True’ contrasts the smoothness of the arrangement with images of danger “like walking cross desert sands with nothing to drink……like walking on a narrow rope in sky scraper heels” and brings the two together in the final couplet “You know I’d rather be making love to you/Than breaking up but this is what I’ve got to do”.
The video of ‘Could It Be You’ is set against a black and white film by the Thames in central London, the images matching the lyrics “But time passes by like the run of the river/There’s no boat I can sail in to free this shiver” – both of them correlatives for the singer’s emotion as she sees people walk by and wonders “could it be you” – the singing and the playing slow, minimal, holding her emotion in gentle tension (and making the words so much better than the couplet looks on the page as I write it down).
Looking Out And After is an album that’s worth sitting and listening to with no distractions. It’s a debut album, but from someone who’s paid their dues over the past 25 or so years. It’s gradually dawned on me that it’s only possible to play and sing as gently, as lazily, as this when you’re in full control of what you’re doing – and this album just is rather lovely.
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‘Could It Be You’ – official video: