sixpence lost90Things are always getting lost in transition, but things also get found in transition. Like a deeper well of life-experience.

Lost in Transition

Sixpence None the Richer
self released / Shore Fire Media
12 tracks / 41 minutes

Lost in Transition might not be the most accurate title for Sixpence None the Richer's new project if you are looking for distinctive, expressive vocals, catchy melodies, a warm balance between electric and acoustic instruments and plenty of hooks, because those elements are certainly not lost – primarily thanks to founding members Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum. Of course, there is the matter of the ten years between Divine Discontent and the new album – certainly, there was a lot of transition happening in that decade and much of it has resulted in the fine songs on this project...

Musically, this is pure Sixpence: the hooks, the little quirks at the end of melody lines, certain chord changes... all of this combined with that voice. Put it together and you've got Sixpence None the Richer. At first, we hear a seemingly more aggressive band than we remember from the days when the sounds of "There She Goes" seemed to be omnipresent. "My Dear Machine" starts the project with a sole distorted guitar establishing the main riff, joined by a pulsing drumbeat, acoustic guitar, and Leigh's vocals. By the end of the first verse a forceful horn riff (paired with a synth) is introduced that will stay in your head long after the song has ended (thank you, John Painter!). It's over in less than three minutes but it's a powerful way for Sixpence None the Richer to say, "Hey, we're back!"

The balance of the album is a collection of wonderful pop songs more typical of the Sixpence sound - well crafted songs in the very capable hands of Matt Slocum (guitars, cello), Justin Cary (bass, baritone guitar), Cason Cooley (keyboards), Will Sayles (drums, percussion), Greg Leisz (pedal steel, lap steel) and Jim Scott (percussion). Of course, Leigh Nash's vocals seal the deal. To a great extent, the material was recorded 'live' in the studio and the result is a warm, real-band sound. Kudos to Will Sayles, by the way, for playing drums the way a pop-rock drummer is supposed to – wonderful playing throughout! Jim Scott's production is clean but never too-polished for its own good – he seems to understand this band perfectly.

There's an understood acknowledgement of God in the lyrics, although not always overtly stated, with the exception of the hauntingly beautiful prayer, "Give it Back," where Nash sings:
"Years in the desert with no drink
Strike a rock, make it bleed
And please Lord give it back to me.

"If you blow on the embers the light will shine on my face
The streams will run in the desert and sing amazing grace

Things are always getting lost in transition, but things also get found in transition. In the case of Sixpence None the Richer, what's been found is a deeper well of life-experience to draw from, and it shows on this album. The dancing fireflies, bearded barley and moonlit floors of "Kiss Me" give way here to lyrics like, "I am running from the footsteps of someone approaching I don't wanna meet," from "Failure." Despite the ominous tone of those words, all is not darkness and pessimism. "It's gonna' be okay," sings Nash on the album's closer "Be OK," a song apparently in reference to her failed marriage (she's now happily married to guitarist Stephen Wilson). Still, you get the feeling that things are indeed being seen in a more proper perspective from a vantage point farther down the road of life.

The rose-colored glasses are off, the bearded barley is just a memory of a hit song on the radio, love has been lost and found, and mortality has taken on a more realistic face. In the song, "Failure," Slocum writes, "time is not my friend anymore," and Nash sings it with conviction. They are wrong – at least as far as Sixpence None the Richer goes. Time has proven to be a very good friend, indeed.

-Bert Saraco

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