German songwriter Ken Steen first picked up a guitar to play along the Laurel 10″ by Brighter, released by Sarah Records in 1991, then began buying other work from the Bristol-based indie label. Coincidentally, just as the label ceased to exist in 1995, he himself finished his band Space Kelly‘s first album. So many years later, sitting at home during the lockdown reminded him of that coming of age period for some reason, and the idea arose to show his love for the Sarah bands by covering some of their songs. Where the originals were mostly elementary or lo-fi (not meant as criticism), Space Kelly pulled out all the stops for a clear and rich sound, with real drums, horns, strings and – of course – jangly guitars, and a lot of attention to mixing and mastering. That pays off, because although you hear tunes from eleven different bands, this record is an organic whole that comes across as fresh as possible. Some highlights are the covers of The Sugargliders (Ahprahran), The Springfields (Are We Gonna Be Alright?), Another Sunny Day (You Should All Be Murdered) and The Field Mice (Emma’s House), but actually there are no weak moments here. This isn’t the first homage to Sarah Records and it won’t be the last, but it’s a damn good one, also a perfect reason to return to the source by the way.
Come To My World: A Tribute To Sarah is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Lounge Records / El Muto Records / KiliKiliVilla. This project was pre-discussed with (and encouraged by) Sarah co-founder Matt Haynes and several of the original artists. The cover photo is by Akiko Yamauchi, designer of Sarah’s cherry logo, and also responsible for the artwork of many Sarah releases.