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May 17, 2024

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Heidi Saperstein
Zara (Kimchee Records)

By: Scott D. Lewis

No sophomore slump here. Heidi Saperstein's debut, The Devil I Once Knew, was an interesting effort, all stark and slightly jarring, but Zara simply leaves it in the dust. Saperstein sounds as if she has exorcised the bulk of her demons, dusted herself off, and can now tackle underlying concerns with more ease and grace. While Patti Smith's visceral approach still flows through Saperstein, it is tempered with more settled sensibilities and even a satisfying dose of pure pop beauty and goodness. "I (Heart) You,"Zara's second track after a glistening, sturdy slice of alt-pop-rock, finds Saperstein quickly changing gears and turning into an ethereal spirit full of spooky sensuality akin to Portland singer-songwriter Lara Michell. "Seven Seas" quietly explodes with passion and urgency, the emotional draw capped by the inclusion of for sweetly stormy strings. The quirky, spinning-carnival sounds of "Rhythm" brings images of Eszter Balint to mind, "Right" could be a Cowboy Junkies B-side, while several of the other treats bring on the Eleni Mandell comparisons. In the end though, Saperstein proves that she's an artist of her own who just happens to be in some very good company. While Saperstein deserves oodles of credit for Zara's strength and charm, big nods should also be given to her top-notch band for keeping things focused and flowing. With an artistic growth curve as impressive as this, the next one should be godhead.
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