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“Strange Doings in the Night” blends storytelling and melody

Last week, Atlanta-based cabaret rock group Sarah and the Safe Word re-released their first studio album, “Strange Doings in the Night,” as a 2022 remaster.

The band calls itself cabaret rock, describing its use of more classical instruments alongside a rock sound. Sarah and the Safe Word are made up of six performers: Sarah Rose on lead vocals, Susy Reyes on violin, Kienan Dietrich on guitar, Maddox Reksten on bass, Carlos Gonzalez on drums and Beth Ballinger on keyboard.

While the album is a remaster, the original 2017 release of the album is not available on music streaming platforms and has not been for some time. 

The remastered album reflects the band’s use of storytelling in their music, starting off with the intro “Act I, Scene I.” This song humorously introduces the album’s themes of tragedy and sex, coated in a sugary-sweet sound.

Highlights of the album include the high-energy “Who Spilled the Sugar” and the title “Strange Doings in the Night.” “Who Spilled the Sugar” is one of the most rambunctious songs of the album and does not disappoint. 

There’s also the playful duet “You’re the Sort of Man I Like,” which riffs on a classic love song and swiftly delves into obsession and violence. While it’s fun and displays some of the band’s quirky nature, it is not the sort of song to listen to on its own. 

“North Ave” features a solo from Dietrich; the sound is melancholy and while the song is good, the solo elevates it. It also features one of the other members echoing during the final chorus, reminding the listener how amazingly the other members can sing.

“The Business Practices of Spiders” highlights Reyes’ violin playing, with the instrument being prominent throughout the song and running under the vocals. The song exemplifies how the band blends flowy melodies and violin with a driving rock sound.

“How Veronica Vanquished the Wolf” lets the band show off their ability to tell a story in a song. While emotional, it is less cohesive than others and the instrumentals feel as if they clash with the vocals.

This album, in contrast to their other two studio albums, has more of the band singing. While a member would sing occasionally in the other albums, “Strange Doings in the Night” will have others singing in large quantities. Hearing their voices mix together adds layers to their sound.

As a whole, the album feels coherent and blends together nicely. The intro sets up the tone, where it dives into more traditional rock songs, mixing in more unique songs along the way. The songs showcase Rose’s range as a singer, her voice jumping from melodic to sharp between songs. A small thing of note is that in both of the band’s other studio albums, the intro would reappear at the end of the final song. This does not seem to be the case for this album. While not major, it was a nice touch.

“Strange Doings in the Night” 2022 remaster can be found on Spotify and all major streaming platforms. 


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