Sarah in the Wild: Oct. 19 at the Honeymoon

There are few singers who can compel a buzzing capacity crowd into instant silence. Fewer who can keep them quiet and suddenly reverent. Even more rare, are the one or two that can charm each listener to feel they are being singularly addressed. Sarah Goodin is such a singer. She is behind the microphone at the Honey Moon. The rich and subtle registers of her voice thread golden through an a capella Nature Boy. The words hang in the air like Chinese lanterns, rising with fire, lingering like ghosts.

The occasion is the debut of her new band, with the, perhaps provisional, name of Sarah in the Wild. Sarah handles vocals and guitar. Cade Capp is on drums and Jake Werrion plays bass. From the number of people in attendance, there is a high level of anticipation to hear what they will sound like. Sarah is opening with a solo set before Cade and Jake come up to join her.

She takes possession of the next song, Call It What You Will, by the inimitable Joe Pug. She follows this with the title song off of her recent EP Sleep. A plaintive invocation to insomnia and deep night desire, the song seems simultaneously like an ancient prayer, a lullaby to a child or a note written to a lost lover. You imagine Durer’s Angel of Melancholy quietly humming this melody as the sands of time run out. Next up is an almost joyful reading of Tennessee Waltz full of haunted Appalachian ache which prompts a lively interaction with the crowd. Her rendition of Eliot Smith’s Between the Bars is simply beautiful: the juxtaposition of the female voice in the male role, singing the drinker’s song, the late night lonely promises of empty hope and broken dreams. These are the sorrow filled songs that Sarah Goodin can sing like no other.

After a short break, the highly anticipated band gathers together. Jake and Cade lay down a deep slow beat, throbbing bass line, hooking straight into dark voodoo centers in the brain. Sarah snarls out the wicked lyrics of Dylan’s Man in a Long Black Coat: “Somebody said from the bible he’d quote / There was dust on the man in the long black coat.” The band ignites the song into a slow burn with rising intensity and back into the tribal voodoo beat.  The crowd erupts into a huge applause.

Everyone knows that Sarah Goodin is a great singer. And there might have been a few – but not really – that worried how she would translate into a band. Now, one song in, there is no doubt: Sarah in the Wild, the band, is great. They follow with a set composed of the songs from Sarah’s EP and ones that will be on her forthcoming full length album. Icarus Into the Sea is a beautiful set piece, luminous with lyrical intensity. Home is transformed by the band, Cade’s drumming like tribal poetry: at just the right intensity with just the right rhythmic complexity. Jake’s bass steady and pure, out in front, reminiscent of Mark Sandman’s sound in Morphine. They sound tight and well practiced. They sound like a band you could listen to all night.

They finish with a cover of Radiohead’s Creep which is so good that it drives the crowd into a sort of Bacchanalian frenzy. Everyone is singing, dancing, smiling, laughing, enraptured by the beautiful music of Sarah in the Wild. At the end, there is an obligatory encore with M.Ward’s Big Boat. Then: sustained applause. Everyone left wanting more. As the musicians lay down there instruments, I watch as a surge of fans and well-wishers surround them with congratulations and gratitude. In the back corner is a beautiful older woman with her eyes closed, smile on her face, lost in the memory of the music. There is more laughter than words. Good omens abound.