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The listener will be the richer

Sixpence None the Richer
Sixpence None the Richer
By Sixpence None the Richer

Squint Entertainment: 1997

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This review first appeared in the April 4, 1998 edition of the American Reporter.

There's something magical about getting a new LP. The tactile experience of holding a 12-inch sleeve in your hand, slowly running your nail under the shrink wrap, pulling the disc out and laying it on the turntable, looking at that big artwork on the cover ...

But we digress. Because once you drop that needle into the opening groove, there better be something there to hold your attention or the experience will be no better than another bad grunge release on digital.

Which makes the fifth release from Sixpence None the Richer a wonderful surprise to anyone who hasn't run into them on the real alternative scene (as opposed to the commercial "alternative" scene that has its own radio stations and brewery-sponsored tours and dedicated aisles at Tower Records and multimillion-dollar contracts).

Sixpence (I think we can dispense with the None the Richer for the duration) is a neat little art band, in a similar vein to Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Natalie Merchant, the Cranberries or Jewel. They write wonderfully crafted gems that are beautifully structured and arranged. The overall effect is not dissimilar to an aural art gallery; there is a grace and sense of scale and modesty that is very appealing.

Equally appealing is the velvet voice of Leigh Nash. Quick comparison: The Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan. Nash has a knack for holding a note just a hair for affect – a technique invented 60 years ago by Bing Crosby and perfected by Frank Sinatra. The beat may be different, but outstanding singing is still outstanding singing.

As mentioned, this release is available in LP – which is the version I received. Not having a stopwatch, I can't vouch for how long it is, but I'd guess around 40 minutes or so. And according to their Web site, there are some differences between the versions of songs on the LP and CD – as I didn't get the CD, I can't say which might be better.

But know this: Whatever differences there may be will be small, and regardless of which you get you're hereby forewarned that you're quite likely to fall in love with Sixpence and find yourself dishing out the necessary coin to buy their older releases.