When You Dream
Artist: Sara Jackson-Holman
Produced by: Expunged Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The creation of Sara Jackson-Holman’s debut album is something of a fairytale really. You see, Sara had fallen in love with the popular Oregon band Blind Pilot and decided to let them know how much she loved their music. So, she posted her thoughts on the band’s MySpace page. No one could have guessed that Anthony McNamer, the president of Expunged Records (Blind Pilot’s record label) would have been checking out the comments on Blind Pilot’s MySpace page. Furthermore, no one would have expected him to check out Sara Jackson-Holman’s page, listen to the music she had posted there and ask her if she had created a demo CD. After listening to a few of Sara’s home recordings, McNamer signed her to a record deal. See, told you - something out of a fairytale.
But this is no fantasy and Sara Jackson-Holman’s debut album, When You Dream, is not shot in the dark. Listening to lyrics, the music and the vocals of Sara Jackson-Holman will prompt you to say, “This is no rookie musician! This is the real deal.” Sara has a smoky voice that’s just perfect for blues, jazz or rock. Her vocals are somewhat Norah Jones meets Yael Naim.
But Sara is more than just a cool voice - this woman can play a mean piano as well. From as early as seven years of age, Sara Jackson-Holman has been in love with the piano, drawing inspiration from such classical composers as Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Scarlatti, Soler and Schumann. Her mastery of the piano and the inspiration of her favorite classic composers is quite evident in When You Dream, especially in such tracks as Red Ink, Maybe Something's Wrong and To Anna.
So we’ve established that Sara Jackson-Holman is an excellent piano player and a great singer, but what we forgot to mention is her love for the written word. An avid reader with a healthy respect for the beauty of well-blended words and metaphors, Sara has herself become quite the lyricist. Her love of metaphors are perfectly expressed in the song Red Ink as she describes writing her feelings down on paper: “From my pen the red ink ebbs and it flows / Papers stained with my yearnings to be free.”
The songs found on When You Dream deal with relationships - building them, maintaining them, losing them and finding them again, realizing when they are destroyed - each song offers a different perspective, style and outcome. My absolute favorite is the first song on the album - the song that hooked me in - Come Back to Me, a song about love lost and eventually returned. The tune is catchy and I can swear I have heard it before somewhere. It sticks in your head long after the song is over and I knew it by heart after listening to it once. Come Back to Me offers hope to those whose loved ones may have lost their way in a relationship that they might find their way once again.
Another favorite is Maybe Something, a song about the realization that a relationship is dying. Classical music is at the forefront in this song and it simply amazes me how Sara Jackson-Holman is capable of combining classical music with pop so seamlessly it’s as if the two always belonged together. When You Dream, the title track, is a beautiful love song that many lovers years from now will be calling “their song.” Who wouldn’t want someone to ask them to dream of them walking side by side through the forest or sailing along the sea. Simply beautiful. I also loved Cellophane, a song that talks about the ways we put up shields to protect ourselves from being hurt in love: “Wrap my heart in cellophane / Keep it dry when it rains / And maybe that will keep it safe / From you.” What a perfect metaphor to describe how one would want to keep their heart safe from the stormy times that can take place in a relationship.
I simply loved When You Dream and have listened to the album four times already. I’ve even played it for other friends because I am so excited to find a singer whose entire album has me captivated and yearning for more. Sara Jackson-Holman is one of those well-rounded performers proving herself an extremely talented classical pianist, an intelligent lyricist and a singer whose voice will grab you as soon as you hear it. The fact that she manages to create a perfect blend of classical and pop music is incredible to me and I can’t wait to hear more from this artist. Sara Jackson-Holman is a woman who is definitely going places in the music industry and I’m certainly going to enjoy her rise to stardom - a well-deserved climax to a fairytale beginning.