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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Sarah Bettens - Never Say Goodbye

Sarah Bettens - Never Say Goodbye
2008, Cocoon Music, LLC

Former K’s Choice vocalist Sarah Bettens returns with her fourth solo album, Never Say Goodbye. For Bettens, it’s the first release on her own imprint, Cocoon Music. A 2006 winner of the European Border Breakers Award for Best New Artist, Bettens has enjoyed chart success in Europe as well as placing/writing music for American television. As a member of K’s Choice, Bettens is responsible for several gold and platinum records in Europe. Never Say Goodbye is being marketed exclusively to fans on her current concert tour and through her website.

Bettens has a gorgeous, deep alto voice tempered by a dog-eared rasp that comes from years singing Rock N Roll, both individually and with the band K's Choice. This gruff but warm sound makes for particularly sultry listening on the more jazz-oriented material on Never Say Goodbye. Bettens gets things started with the Torch style of I Can Do Better Than You. It's a very enjoyable listen and just unexpected enough to hook you for the ride. Slow You Down shows a wonderful maturity in songwriting about a relationship where one partner does everything except leave for good. It's an amazing tune. Arthur Hamilton's Cry Me A River is up next. Originally written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the movie Pete Kelly's Blues, Fitzgerald never recorded the song until six years later because it was dropped from the movie. The popularized version was recorded by Julie London, and Bettens does her proud. It's just Bettens and piano, and Sarah Bettens is in her best voice.

Bettens hits mix-tape gold with Win Me Over. It's too bad the Pop Radio market is what it is these days. Win Me Over is chart gold, and I guarantee you that some artist down the road will release a version of this song and have a major hit with it. Whoever it is, I doubt they'll end up sounding as good as Bettens does here. Bettens tackles a Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin tune popularized by Bonnie Raitt next. I Can't Make You Love Me is a modern classic; Bettens treats it with reverence, injecting it with her own warmth and vulnerability in an unforgettable performance. One of my personal favorite songs on the disc is Scream; it's a piano-based tune about making with most of what you have. The song is poignant and a real treat. Bettens highlights the dangers of keeping a gun at home where small children live. Her viewpoint is obvious without sounding preachy and the melody is wonderful. Follow Me is an invitation to love and adventure; a musical fairy tell if you will. Romance is the highest goal here. Bettens closes out with a K's Choice tune, Not An Addict. It's an enjoyable version of the song, although not a favorite personally.

Sarah Bettens is probably more of a draw in Europe than the US these days, but audiences on the West side of the Atlantic really ought to be paying her more attention. Bettens has a wonderfully listenable voice and a knack for crafting intelligent and tuneful Pop/Rock songs that stick with you better than a bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning. Never Say Goodbye doesn't break significant new ground, but for pure listening enjoyment it's very much worth your time.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sarah Bettens at or You can purchase Never Say Goodbye through Bettens’ web store.

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