SW: The Turning Point
SW: "The Turning Point"

Song List: Loving You, Farewell My Friend, The Turning Point, So It Goes, Fool's Gold, Master Plan, Blue Boy, Step Inside, Vacant Heart, Ashes to Ashes, Faltering Night, Somebody Call a Rainbow

When SW's first album, The Road to Here, sold out its first pressing fans asked for more-more copies of the CD and more songs to go with her first nine. Answering their call, The Turning Point is much more: twelve songs recorded over the summer of 2002 that, when compared to SW's debut, display all the positives that comes from patient recording, intense producing scrutiny and a deep conviction to songwriting. The end result is that The Turning Point is an album of depth and beauty, thought and reflection-an ideal companion on a Sunday afternoon spent thinking of loves lost and that one love who eventually finds their way.

The Turning Point takes off quickly with "Loving You," a minute-and-a-half mover that among first-time listeners consistently elicits a "Great song, why so short?" reaction. Its intentional brevity serves its purpose, piquing interest and arousing a curiosity toward what lies ahead. Having gained your undivided attention, the tempo backs off with "Farewell, My Friend" which features some of the album's most impressive vocal work both in its range and raw emotion. As the song title indicates, the song is a solemn story of loss, but seems to gain musical momentum by the end to reveal a sense of hope. "The Turning Point" rounds out the first three songs, embodying everything a title track should-a driving force that provides a lyrical and melodic statement that underlies the entire album, enhanced by Pat Glynn's lead guitar, which seamlessly alternates between strong melody and ambient background. Beyond this literal and metaphorical turning point lies the brooding "Master Plan" and the bright and peppy "Blue Boy." Whereas "Vacant Heart" may be the most beautiful song on the album, "Faltering Night" is without a doubt the darkest and most mysterious-the sonic black sheep of The Turning Point family.

As on The Road to Here, SW has once again assembled a stellar group of musicians, adding strings to the mix, orchestrated tastefully by Daniel Felsenfeld. Each member of the band, when not performing with SW, stays busy playing with an array of well-known artists…with the exception of the strings, whose Julliard home spawns talent not usually measured by Top 40 charts. There are moments on The Turning Point in which the band simply rocks (see the end of "Blue Boy"), but then smartly shies away as in the quasi-jazz post-chorus breakdown in "Step Inside." And at other times the band refrains entirely as they do for SW's remake of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes." Covering such a classic is a bold and ambitious move but one that SW does in good faith; even further, this version is one of the more compelling remakes in recent memory (Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" and "Closer" by Johnny Cash and Maxwell, respectively, top Coyote Music's "Best Recent Covers" list).

The album concludes on a note of hope. Exploring how overwhelming life can be, "Somebody Call a Rainbow" evokes memories of the old TV commercial that pleads, "Calgon, take me away!" Be it a rainbow or something else, The Turning Point in itself offers an escape from the daily doldrums. A voice tinged equally with classical and folk beauty. Effortless, gorgeous piano. With this effort, SW proves that she can put together a group of songs that hold their own next to anything on radio's airwaves. So, that is where she stands new album in hand, poised to take the next (and biggest) step of her career.

Reviewed on 3/30/03