Sara Jackson-Holman was just a student when she was discovered in 2010. Studying piano and writing at Whitworth University, she didn’t even have a demo recorded yet at the time. Anthony McNamer, the president of Expunged (Blind Pilot’s record label) saw a fan post she had left for Blind Pilot after one of their concerts. After a couple of clicks, he found himself on her Myspace page and hearing her voice for the first time. It wasn’t long after that until she was signed to his label. On May 25th 2010 Jackson-Holman released her debut full-length album When You Dream and received fantastic reviews. Her debut single “Into The Blue” was featured in the season two finale of the ABC show Castle, with other songs being featured on MTV and the CW.
Cardiology, Jackson-Holman’s sophomore album, was released on July 24th. On the differences between her two albums, she stated, “This album centers around themes of love and loss and my experiences with each over the course of this last year. Some songs, like “Do I Make It Look Easy” and “For Albert” are about moving on from situations, realizing and accepting that you can’t change people, which is challenging, but at the same time empowering, because that understanding ultimately provides you with a sense of peace. I also wrote songs to sort through what it means to lose someone you love, and what you do with that feeling of loss.”
While she has been compared to artists such as Adele and Feist, some of the slower songs on this album are slightly reminiscent of Lana Del Rey, but better. Especially in the beautiful and heavy ballad “Freight Train”. Her classical background still shines through, but she has put a twist to it that is all her own. “For Albert” samples Fur Elise but is accompanied by a drum machine and catchy hooks, which means, to no displeasure of mine, that it’s been stuck in my head since I first heard it. Both of these tracks, as well as others, were written after the passing of her grandfather, whom she was very close to. Her grief is apparent on the album, but a lot of her lyrics are also hopeful and loving. “My Biggest Mistake” is one of my favorite tracks, with it’s slight build and confession of newly found self-awareness that’s fully expected with someone only in their early twenties.
Anyone who has ever experienced any form of loss will ultimately feel closer to both her and her music after listening to Cardiology, as the theme is all too relatable. But from beginning to end, Sara Jackson Holman has found a way to make her melancholy beautiful. This is one of the few albums that I have heard in a while that once I start it, I have to finish it.