Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 04 December 2017

Sarah McQuaid's New Album Muses On Mortality With Her Trademark Velvet-Textured Voice

UK-based singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid's new album, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, muses on mortality, but it's by no means all gloom. 
Pic by Phil Nicholls www.philnicholls.co.uk

Break Me Down is possibly the cheeriest song ever written about decomposition, while One Sparrow Down (backed not by Sarah's trademark DADGAD-tuned guitar but rather by a battery of unorthodox percussion instruments including wine bottle and oven grill) takes a similarly upbeat approach to the death of a bird hell-bent on attacking its own reflection, unseen by the predatory cat calmly watching from her perch on the windowsill. 

In the liner notes for the album, which was produced by legendary singer-songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman, Sarah thanks her cat Nightshine for contributing guest vocals to the track, and apologises to her for the implicit metaphor.

A cover of Jeff Wayne's melancholy Forever Autumn leads into an arrangement for voice and guitar of Dies Irae, the medieval chant whose melody is echoed not only in Wayne's intro to his classic War Of The Worlds number but also in countless film soundtrack themes (The Exorcist, The Shining and Citizen Kane, to name a few). 


Here as elsewhere on the album, McQuaid's guitar shines on an equal basis with her velvet-textured voice. 

Indeed, two of the tracks are purely instrumental: New Beginnings, written as a wedding march for former pop star Zoë Pollock of Sunshine On A Rainy Day fame (with whom Sarah recorded the album Crow Coyote Buffalo under the band name Mama), and The Day Of Wrath, That Day, whose title is a literal translation of the first line in Dies Irae.

The propulsive, apocalyptic title track was inspired by a warning McQuaid heard herself giving her son as he excavated an enormous hole in their back garden.

There's an obvious allusion to fracking ("Splitting cracks in the rock to free the power inside"), but the song"s thematic scope extends well beyond that: "Sometimes the way to fix a problem is to turn the pressure off" is a maxim that could apply to virtually any aspect of life.

On four of the tracks, including lead single The Tug Of The Moon, McQuaid plays an electric guitar belonging to Michael Chapman, which he's since given her on long-term loan.

"The precision and sophistication of the writing and playing blows me away. I am so glad to be involved," says Chapman. 

Since meeting Sarah when both artists played the Village Pump Festival in 2014, Chapman has become a staunch friend and supporter, even performing as her opening act at a local concert he and his wife arranged for her. 

Sarah became a regular visitor to the Chapmans' farmhouse in Cumbria, and during one visit he made her an offer she couldn't refuse: 

"We were having a chat and a glass of wine, and he said "Why don't you let me produce your next album?"," Sarah recalls. "I'm glad he said it, because I'd never have dared ask otherwise!"

Sarah McQuaid plays The Greys, Brighton, on 2nd February 2018. Her new album, 'If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous', is released the same day. CLICK HERE for more info.


by: Mike Cobley



Related links

Sarah McQuaid The Greys

Share    


"We're from the days when a number 14 bus and a supermarket trolley got us around." Soul II Soul mainman Jazzie B remembers the lengths he and a school friend used to go to play dances with their first sound system when they were just thirteen years old.

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Paul Weller's first album, In The City, which he released with The Jam in May 1977.

In anticipation of International Women's Day and to mark the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act - which gave many women the vote in UK for the first time -  Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), Brighton, will host a panel debate on women in creative leadership.  

Brighton's contemporary art gallery Fabrica has launched a crowdfunding appeal to rescue its finances in light of recent funding cuts which threaten the organisation’s future. 
Peace Pic (c) Jonnie Craig 2018

Indie rock quartet Peace have released stand-alone track, Power, a unifying anthem between the band and their fans at their notoriously raucous and tribal live shows; this is Peace 2.0; new label, new tunes and a sure fire statement of intent from the four-piece.

The Netherlands has been chosen as the lead international partner for The Great Escape who will be working alongside the Dutch Music Export to highlight the country's most prominent rising stars.

The Love Supreme Jazz Festival, the UK's only major greenfield jazz festival, today announces a host of acts confirmed to perform at this summer's event, which returns to Glynde Place in East Sussex from June 29th – July 1st 2018.

Split Britches present an up-to-the minute topical interactive show which takes unexploded ordnances as a metaphor for the unexplored potential in us all - particularly elders – and tries to uncover it. 

Albert Hammond Jr's new album Francis Trouble explores a deeply personal topic – the stillborn death of his twin brother, Francis, and the lingering effects that event has had in his life and music. 

Punk. Funk. Rock. Soul. The main ingredients in a potent witch's brew that the Bellrays have been mixing for a long time now.

Brighton Unitarian Church has been awarded a grant of £227,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore its endangered classical Greek frontage, which dates from 1820, and is one of the city centre's finest landmarks.

Star of BBC's Live At The Apollo and The Mash Report, Geoff Norcott takes to the road with his new show following a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Chris Difford is a rare breed. As a member of one of London's best-loved bands, the Squeeze co-founder has made a lasting contribution to English music with hits such as Cool For Cats, Up The Junction, Labelled With Love, Hourglass and Tempted.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd