Artist: Sara Jackson-Holman

Produced by: Expunged Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When I first heard Sara Jackson-Holman’s debut album, When You Dream, I knew that this was not some flash-in-the-pan singer/songwriter/pianist.  This was the real deal.  Sara Jackson-Holman’s debut album journey may have begun with a little luck (a fan posting by Jackson-Holman on Blind Pilot’s website), but talent is what saw her through and I had little doubt that we would be hearing more from her.  This was confirmed when songs from her debut album received television air time in shows like Castle, Chelsea Settles and Ringer.  When I learned that this talented individual had created another album, due for release July 24, 2012, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

            Each track of Cardiology deals with matters of the heart, featuring songs about love, loss, heartbreak and tragedy.  The very first song on the album, Cartology, features a heartbeat in the background as the singer describes the powerful feelings she has for another.  This is followed by Can’t Take My Love, a song about a woman willing to fight to keep the person she loves.  The sound is a bit on the stalker side and contains a powerful piano solo coupled with choir ending.  The next track, For Albert, is my absolute favorite.  It features the blending of Beethoven with contemporary beats.  A tribute to Sara Jackson-Holman’s grandfather who recently died, the song speaks of letting go and heartache, but the music and lyrics are so catchy that I found it to be a lot of fun to sing along with.

            Freight Train is another song written shortly after the death of Jackson-Holman’s grandfather and features some incredibly poignant lyrics, equating some intense feelings with objects and situations we can all picture: “Grief is a freight train…Forever is a slow dream, oh what a vivid thing…Hope is a fast car, only takes you so far…Love is a slow song playing on the radio…Happiness a soft light that we see our lives by…”  The sultry vocals coupled with the intense piano background just adds that much more poignancy to the lyrics.  This is followed by Break My Heart, an angry retort to a poisonous lover and an anthem to all those who have been in similar relationships.  The next track, Empty Arms, has a mystical quality that can only be equated with a new love.

            In the next track, To Be Bright, Sara Jackson-Holman sings about a love she knows that can’t possibly be good for her and yet something she yearns for.  This is followed by Oh My Honey, a love ballad that has the cadence of a lullaby.  Things get a bit funkier in the next track, a love song called Risk It All, featuring an electronic dance sound and lyrics discussing the willingness to risk it all to fall in love.  We move forward to another song about a poisonous love with an angry sound called My Biggest Mistake.

            Come By Fire is another sad ballad about loss.  This is followed by another angry song about moving on from a love gone wrong, Do I Make It Look Easy.  This is a song I can definitely relate to - who hasn’t broken up with someone and yet put up a front as if you are just fine…in fact better without that person…just to prevent them from knowing how much that break-up might have hurt.  We wrap things up with the title song, a mystical ballad that seems to me to be dedicated to a love lost.  “You know that I love you. / It breaks my heart to leave. / Know that I will miss you / Until you lay with me.”

            Sara Jackson-Holman’s voice is sultry and sexy - a sort of Nora Jones meets Adele.  Her lyrics are incredibly touching and well-written, weaving stories that anyone can relate to.  I love the way she mixes classical music with contemporary and electronic sound.  I am a huge fan of classical music and this is a terrific way of bringing new life to old favorites.  I thoroughly enjoyed her debut album, but with Cardiology, I feel Sara Jackson-Holman has really moved to the next level.  Knowing that songs from When You Dream have been inspirational enough to find their way on to television shows, I can’t imagine how these same shows could pass up Cardiology.  I can definitely see some of these tracks working perfectly in commercials or in one of those dramatic closing montage scenes of television series like Grey’s AnatomyCardiology is one of the best sophomore productions I have listened to in years.  With an album this good as a sophomore effort, I can’t wait to see how Sara Jackson-Holman will top it.


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