By Marcelo Villa
Sarah Kirkland Snider’s debut album “Penelope” is far from the
norm of most genres, but a true music enthusiast will enjoy the
intricate melodies and unique structure of this composition.
The New Jersey native and Yale graduate is a renowned composer
known for her eloquent and distinctive style, which has elements of
classical, indie rock and pop.
“Penelope,” released last week, tells the story of a war veteran
suffering from brain damage who returns home to his wife after
being gone 20 years.
The soldier’s wife reads Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey” to him
and through the reading, finds a way to connect with him and
experience his trauma.
The album features exceptional vocals from Shara Worden of indie
rock band “My Brightest Diamond.”
Accompanying Worden is instrumentation provided by music
ensemble Signal under the direction of Brad Lubman.
The ensemble consists of 25 members performing with instruments
such as: strings, harp, percussion, drums, electric guitar and bass
All of these instruments combine to create an album that mixes
elements of opera, cabaret, chamber music and rock as well.
The foremost detail listeners will discover the lack of breaks
in Snider’s album. “Penelope” is a 60-minute song cycle with only a
few seconds of silence between each movement.
The continuous flow of music may be strange for the avid music
listener used to tracks, but it gives the album a classical feel.
Most classical compositions are a continuous cycle separated by
short breaks. Each break signifies a new movement in the piece.
Worden does an amazing job on vocals in this album as she truly
captures the expressive nature of Snider’s composition, and Signal
provides impressive instrumentals.
Overall, the album has a new-age classical feel. The traditional
orchestral instruments blend well with the modern sound of
electric guitar and bass as well as the theatrical
The one drawback of Snider’s album is obviously the length.
Not too many listeners can sit and listen to a song for an
entire hour but that shouldn’t stop anyone from at least sampling a
“Penelope” is not everyone’s style of music, but if you’re
looking to open up your mind to other genres of music then give it
The album was released by New Amsterdam Records and is featured
on MSN’s listening booth where the full album can be heard in its
Snider’s work is sure to please some but may be too lengthy and
a little strange for others.
Photo courtesy of 7-10 Music
Snider composes unique album
Show Comments (0)