reviews of “Absence of Blame”

Austin-based singer/songwriter Sara Hickman’s music is sometimes hard for me to categorize. Sometimes she writes humorous songs – in the same vein as Christine Lavin – and some times she writes a real “rocker”. The photos on the package of this CD show her on a dock in a summer dress, yet the photo on the CD itself shows her lying nude on a rock.

While she made some albums for major labels in the past, this is an independently self-produced CD. And this gives Hickman the freedom to push the genre and also push the song length. Many of the tracks exceed five minutes in length. While “Size 6 Dress” is a funny piece of Hickman humor, the last track “Love is There” is a beautifully written and produced track. This one is definitely “radio ready”. Running nearly neck-and-neck as my favorite is “Last Man in the Water”. Most of the other tracks more than satisfy in pleasure.

I only wish there were room made in the package for the printed lyrics. They are probably on her website but its so much nicer, when words as good as Hickman’s are playing, to be able to follow along as you listen. Maybe next time.

Steve Ramm

“Anything Phonographic”

I first got into Sara’s music with 1994’s Necessary Angels, Sara’s independent release that came out after she was dropped by Elektra records. While not as popular as Shortstop, her best selling album, Necessary Angels is an uplifting album full of catchy tunes that stick in your head. After the equally interesting Misfits, Sara was picked up by Shanachie records and put out some solid yet unspectacular music. I don’t know if it there is something about putting out music on an independent label, but Absence of Blame is by far some of the best music of her career. I had stopped purchasing Sara’s releases in recent years, but I am thrilled that I took a chance and downloaded Absence of Blame. It is truly GREAT music. I just hope that it gets the audience it deserves.

Cliff Randall, Missoula, Montana

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