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Sarah King, 'When It All Goes Down'

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Published April 10, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 11, 2024 at 11:03 a.m.


Sarah King, When It All Goes Down - COURTESY
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  • Sarah King, When It All Goes Down

(Ringleader Records, CD, digital, vinyl)

Rather than succumb to anguish in the wake of tragedy, one local musician funnels daunting hardship into her debut studio album to offer an impassioned and booze-drenched batch of songs.

When It All Goes Down is Sarah King's counterpunch to an unthinkable series of woes. Its dozen tracks — including 10 originals — firmly establish the New England-born-and-raised singer-songwriter and guitarist as a talent on the rise, even against the odds.

King lost three loved ones in rapid succession: her dog, her first husband and her mother. The crushing sequence of death left her with debilitating sorrow.

But with counseling, therapy, and the time and space afforded by the Green Mountains, where she currently lives in a remote log cabin, King not only reconciled herself to the troubling experiences but crafted them into riveting and provocative songs that convey her struggles.

Released in late March, the album was produced, engineered and arranged by Woodstock, N.Y.-based David Baron, who's worked with Noah Kahan and Lana Del Rey.

He's previously worked with King, too. In 2021, Baron and Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers invited her to record at Sun Mountain Studios in the Catskills for a session that yielded her award-winning EP The Hour. King returned for sessions in 2022 and 2023 to work on the new record, assisted by Baron and skilled studio musicians.

Across each resonant track on When It All Goes Down, King stuns with her vocal abilities and hones her own brand of "gothic Americana." She blends rock, folk, blues, country and southern soul — a testament to her time in Georgia performing with a rock band before returning north.

"Lord Take My Soul," the repentance-themed opening track, features her in raw demo form, gently plucking an acoustic guitar before giving way to the thunderous instrumentation that powers much of the recording. King sets the tone, howling her intentions with a hell-raiser's slant: "I'd like to rest my bones, but I can't change my ways / Oh, Lord, I'm bound to suffer for my sins."

Throughout the album, King steps in and out of the shadows; her songs are defined by deep reflection and revelations of her own fortitude. In "Always an Almost," she recognizes the shortcomings of her former self, builds her confidence and sees the path to greater strength. In the menacing title track that follows, King admits, "there's only so much one soul can take," vowing to "stand up to the devil when it all goes down."

A triumphant and spirited number, "Stronger Than You Ever Knew" is King's full realization of what she's been through and what it will take to survive. It's balanced by the bittersweet but merited blues-rock enthusiasm of "You Were Wrong About Me."

Strong drink is a theme King has mixed into her previous singles. Though she's living a healthier lifestyle and drinking less these days, When It All Goes Down adds "Blame It on the Booze" and "Whiskey Thinking" to her barroom playlist.

With a feisty cover of Led Zeppelin's liquor-swilling classic "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do," the first song she taught herself to play on guitar, King shows off her dynamic range as a singer, emulating Robert Plant.

With an uncommon style and a perspective that's even harder to come by, King is in a position to thrive as a songwriter and storyteller in her own right.

When It All Goes Down is available on all streaming platforms and can be purchased at sarahkingsings.com.

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