Sarah & The Safe Word's "Red Hot & Holy" is a Spooky Spectacular
If you haven’t heard of Sarah and the Safe Word by now, you must be way out of the loop or living under a rock. The band took the Georgia music scene by storm with their unique style of “cabaret rock“ in 2017 following the release of their first full-length album Strange Doings in the Night, along with their stellar performance at Warped Tour 2017. A few weeks back, the group dropped their highly anticipated new EP Red Hot & Holy, a seven track spectacular produced by local Atlanta engineer, Aaron Pace.
The record begins with “Invocation,” an eerily haunting track that sounds like it was ripped straight out of a retro horror film. Like everything that follows, this track has an underlying “spooky factor” that screams “Halloween” at the top of its lungs, which makes the record’s October 26th release seem all the more timely.
Lyrically speaking, Sarah Rose fills every track with crafty hooks, clever wordplay, and creative narratives. My personal favorite line is, “tell you what I'm gonna do, I'm cooking up a bitch's brew,” which comes in the chorus of “Lit Cigarette”. Pair that with a whole slew of catchy melodies, and you've got the perfect recipe for insanely entertaining songs.
One of the things that make this record and the band unique is the instrumentation. Susy Reyes’ violin, Courtney Varner’s viola, and Beth Ballinger's keys compliment Rose’s vocal melodies and add a vaudeville feel to each tune. On the other hand, Georgia Local Spotlight’s own Kienan Dietrich puts the rock in “cabaret rock” with his high energy guitar riffs, while Maddox Reksten rides the rhythm with his commanding basslines. Then there's Sam Freeman, who holds down each track with a variety of drumming styles, drawing on everything from jazz to metal and beyond.
The song that took me by surprise is “Formula 666.” It's explosive, heavy at times, and of course catchy. It's a great example of Rose's ability to tell a story and the band’s ability to frame it through music. After a brief dialogue mid-track, the song powers into a breakdown that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with chaotic vocals ripping through the track alongside a manic guitar riff.
Personally, I find it hard to choose a favorite song from Red Hot & Holy. The whole record is energetic, theatrical, and professional. You can bop your head, dance, or mosh to this record. If you put your earbuds in and close your eyes, you might just see yourself walking into a classy party in some gothic cathedral where Sarah & the Safeword just so happens to be entertaining a lively crowd of ragtime rejects.
Every track is distinct and unique, and yet nothing sounds out of place. My only complaint is that I want more.
Cover art: Jonathan Roach / Photo by Daniel Finkelstein