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KUMD Album Review: Song Like A Seed

Song Like A Seed
Sara Thomsen Song Like A Seed

Sara Thomsen - Song Like A Seed

Twin Ports singer-songwriter Sara Thomsen’s latest release, Song Like A Seed, subverts no expectations in sound or subject matter, but is nonetheless a worthy addition to her catalogue. Throughout all of Thomsen’s work are currents of faith, respect for the earth, and love as a political approach. The album functions as a sort of continuation of her previous album Somewhere to Begin, where the personal and political stood resolutely side by side. In a way, it’s the perfect litmus test for introducing Sara’s songwriting to new listeners.

Much of the subject matter on Song LIke A Seed treads on familiar ground for Thomsen, starting with water rights. The opening track “Water is Life” pays homage to the 2016 Standing Rock protests both in title and content. Dakota backing vocals support Thomsen’s reminder that life on earth has always needed clean water, not oil. The rhythm utilizes a swaying motion, one to move campfire singers at an inevitable future protest.

Similarly to her past releases, most of the album is just Sara’s voice and guitar. Her playing is confident and adept, but never showy. The sparse production makes additional instruments stand out with voices of their own, such as the gentle piano on “108” or the violin on “Rhapsody of Rest.” Her lyrics range from refrain-focused ballads to insightful, lilting poetry.

The centerpiece, as always, is Thomsen’s earthy balladeer voice. Her singing is tender to tear jerking effect. Her wife Paula Pedersen’s harmonies are a welcome return, adding depth and sweetness to Thomsen’s folk melodies. The way their voices blend and contrast with each other, from Thomsen’s alto to Pedersen’s full-bodied mezzo, come together like puzzle pieces; not only are you listening to duets between people who love each other, but singers who are practiced in performing together.

Thomsen’s melodies are lovely and sometimes outright catchy; on highlight “Where Did Jesus Go?” she reclaims Jesus as a compassionate, poor man of color whose face she finds more readily in immigrants and the downtrodden than in churches today. The acapella protest song “Too Many Roosters” advocates for more diverse gender representation in politics with funny analogies and clever word play.

Most of Sara’s audience likely share her politics, so some shades of preaching to the choir may be present, but calling Thomsen “preachy” would do a disservice to her earnest belief in the power of love and music. “Magenta and Grey” and Maggie Wheeler-penned tune “Let Me Sing For You” are sincere enough to nudge any cynic into a belief in love. “108,” a reflection on Thomsen’s childhood home, is a sentimental, lovely piece of poetry that manages to keep from drifting into saccharine. She’s a true heir to the minimalist thrones of Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.

With a voice that wraps warm arms around melodies and instinctive songwriting chops, Sara Thomsen’s latest release is a natural, lovely expansion on her catalogue. Long-time listeners and new fans will find a familiar, kind-hearted folk album with love and politics in its bones.


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