55. Sixpence None the Richer – Sixpence None the Richer
SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER (1997)
Sixpence None the Richer
In early 1994 I was working for the newly created Diamante Music, a company birthed from the demise of Frontline Records/Distribution. We were having sales Conference in Nashville, TN at the offices of REX, an independent label that Diamante had recently signed a distribution deal with. This was a label driven by very creative aggressive musical leanings like Circle of Dust, Believer, Living Sacrifices, Six Feet Deep and Hot Pink Turtle. But this time we were presented something we never saw coming.
The owner of Diamante was a hulk of man named Bill Conine. He stood at the front of the conference room with his arm around this pretty little, diminutive red haired girl. A young man I remembered from the band Love Come stood next to her. Minutes later the sales force was introduced to songs “Trust” and “Field of Flowers” from the upcoming debut release, “Fatherless and the Widow” by Sixpence None the Richer.
Guitarist Matt Slocum read a portion from C.S. Lewis that explained the seemingly odd name of the band. It didn’t matter. The sales force was in the presence of something that was bigger than they even imagined. As stellar as the debut release was, it did not compare to what Steve Taylor’s fledgling label, Squint, would produce with the bands self-titled third release.
After experiencing some moderate sales success the album started to fly when mainstream radio stations began adding the single “Kiss Me.” This became a huge hit reaching Number two on both the Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts. The single would continue to breathe life into the project as it was used in a pivotal scene in the popular teen romance movie “She’s All That.”
Soon afterward the band would record a cover of the La’s “There She Goes” which would also chart extremely well. Squint immediately began repressing the project with the bonus song added to the project. But if all the reader knows of this project are those two great singles than they are truly missing out on a wonderful record that captures more and more with each listen.
“We Have Forgotten” starts off the album with a soft and lilting melody that, like most of the album, envelopes and surrounds rather than beats and pounds. One is lulled into submission and eventually the listener surrenders to the sounds so beautiful and stirring.
All too often an artist finds the most powerful expressions are the questions and the difficulties in life, so with “Anything” the band admits to this frailty in the art. “We’re all told to dance, but no one picked the tune.”
One of the album’s highlights is the very sexy and groove driven “Waiting Room.” This contains some of the best combination of Slocum’s guitar work and Leigh’s breathy vocals mixed with a very dynamic string arrangement. Strings don’t normally rock like this! The longing lyrics match the music to a “T”
Here we are in the waiting room of the world.
We will wait until you call our name out loud,
In the waiting room of the world.
We will wait until you call our name out loud.
What follows can only be described as an mega hit and a game changer for the band. “Kiss Me” became the biggest hit for the band as they crossed over to mainstream radio. The song reached millions more as it played in the pivotal scene in the popular teen romantic comedy, “She’s All That” as well as accompanying a scene on the popular Dawson’s Creek.
It was simply HUGE!!!
“Easy to Ignore” brings the band back to its roots with a more eclectic folk rock sound with a wonderful string section supporting the Americana rock flavor. All the while “Puedo Escribir” is a Spanish rock number about loss and loneliness.
Another rock single that received some strong Christian radio support is “I Can’t Catch You.” More rock than much on the album, this song is all about a great guitar riff hook by Slocum.
“The Lines of My Earth” is really unique with its beautiful piano and vocal performance with the rhythm guitar mixed way back in the mix and almost indecipherable at times. There is a sense of desperation for inspiration that makes the song so brutally honest. But when the guitar and sax kick in near the end it takes on a whole different jazzy vibe that is very cool.
I will admit that I do have a Fast Forward song on the album that I always skip. “Sister, Mother” just has never done anything for me, and I really can’t give an honest reason as to why.
But the album is quickly saved for with the back to back songs “I Won’t Stay Long” and “Love.” There are no two songs any different on the album than these two. the first is an acapella number that soars in its simplicity while the latter is the “heaviest” song and actually reminds me the most of Slocum’s former band, the criminally overlooked Love Coma.
“Moving On” reminds me a bit on Over the Rhine, and that’s a really, really good thing.
The album closes with another “hit” song that was actually not a part of the original release. A cover of the La’s tune, “There She Goes,” was added after the popularity of “Kiss Me” left the label searching for another more commercially viable single. It worked as the song became a better than moderate hit for the band.
As mentioned previously Sixpence experienced very strong Christian Rock radio support for “I Can’t Catch You.” But this not an album of singles. It is an album best experienced as a whole. Some records are amazing because of how each and every individual song is such a wonderful work on its own. SNTR is radically different in that it really is meant to be enjoyed as a single unit. Songs flow and move and leave an impression more than an indelible mark. When the listener has finished they believe they have truly taken in a work of art.