Castaway begins with an affecting spoken-word piece about female sexuality titled “Body”, as the drone and beats build; Sarah Elizabeth Haines has arrived. The second full-length release from the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is a questioning of society’s norms from a female artist’s perspective, around a range of sounds and vocal styling that keeps listeners enraptured throughout its eleven tracks.
Co-produced with Kevin Salem (Rachel Yamagata) the album is a mix of cracking percussion, substantial swelling sounds, and layers of strings as Haines deploys her classically trained violins and violas, as well as meaty guitar riffs, to support her songs which search for love, lose love and try to find her true self.
Haines contains multitudes as the drums and swirling sound absorb “Young and Pretty” which finds her questioning just who she is supposed to be, while the chugging electric guitar and breathy vocals seek the return of her lover on “In The Morning”. The acoustic picking and skittering beat uproot independence on “Belong” while the sexy “Lazy” makes excellent use of fluttering vocals and layers of hypnotic sounds before an overdriven guitar cuts through the soft sounds.
The indie-rock amps up with rising power for “Razor Line” while “Liar” employs funky strings and passionate vocals about a failed relationship; both songs are bright and single-worthy. On an immensely confident album a track like “Best of Us” still stands out with a hypnotic groove and soaring vocals while the acoustic picking of “Water” and the dramatic piano ballad title track closer puts the focus directly on Haines vocals which coast over waves of sound.
The production, songwriting, singing, and musicianship are all top-notch throughout this twisting full length. Sarah Elizabeth Haines’ ardent Castaway is a stunningly strong statement as the artist has found her voice while constantly evolving and traveling through this thing called life.