Sally Seltmann – [Album]

Friday, 21 May 2010

Maybe it's just the power of suggestion but, while Heart That's Pounding is the singer's first album, it's impossible not to feel like you've heard Sally Seltmann before, somewhere. From the very beginning of “Harmony To My Heartbeat,” as the drums tap gently open and Seltmann meekly coaxes every ounce of attention out of anyone and everyone listening to join her in her own stolen moment, something seems familiar; it's a little sweet, a little euphoric and very, very infectious. And then it hits you like silent, falling snow – the hands and songwriting chops that helped Lesley Feist write the impeccably-placed hit, “1 2 3 4” were Sally Seltmann's.

The same sort of innocence and delicacy that earned Feist and “1 2 3 4” no less than four Grammy nominations, a nomination for a BRIT Award, a Polaris Prize nomination and three Juno Award wins is instantly apparent in the rolling piano, hand claps and cascading vocal melody that opens the record with “Harmony To My Heartbeat,” and it gives off a strange, good and weird feeling. It's pretty, sweet and sort of romantic and that works well, but the real hook to the song lies in an intangible, odd and idiosyncratic quality to it; between the piano and Seltmann's wistful vocals, an unusual warmth creeps into listeners and, by the last note the singer hits, listeners are simply left sitting doe-eyed and smiling.

At the end of the song, it feels like you've fallen in love for the first time all over again.

That feeling overcomes listeners another eleven times over through the duration of Heart That's Pounding but, it's funny, there's exactly nothing earnest about it. Each time a song ends, listeners feel a little bit special because they experienced it but it's not like anyone went out of their way to find it and Seltmann herself didn't go out of her way to rock out some heartfelt anthem. Quite the opposite, it's just easy; the melodies and machinations of songs like “Set Me Free” (which makes great use of Beatles-esque horns), “On The Borderline” (the closest to a chilly song on the record, and it's still only as cold as “1 2 3 4” was) and “Sentimental Seeker” all combine dew-eyed pop with doe-eyed heart with fine hooks that listeners will find themselves singing in the shower for weeks after hearing them. Part of the reason they stick so well with listeners likely has to do with each song's integration of classic rock and pop ideals (in “Sentimental Seeker,” for example, there's a harpsichord and words of unconditional devotion much like The Beach Boys' “God Only Knows,” both “5 Stars” and “Tossed A Coin” have a breathless delivery like the one that hooked listeners on Dido for a while, and so on) along with the will to be honest and forthright in Seltmann's songwriting.

In the end – as it has been from the very start of “Harmony To My Heartbeat” really – as “Dark Blue Angel” fades out, listeners will be left sitting, glowing and smiling that they had the chance to experience Heart That's Pounding. Usually when a singer puts her heart out like this, you can hear the hesitation in her voice because she's not sure if it'll work. That's not the case here though – Sally Seltmann hands her heart freely  to listeners and, with the beauty of Heart That's Pounding so evident, they accept it gladly for the gift it is.



Sally Seltmann – “Harmony T My Heartbeat” – Heart That's Pounding


Heart That's Pounding
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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