New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, vocalist, and visual artist Sarah Mary Chadwick released her eighth studio record Messages To God September 15 via Kill Rock Stars. Executive produced by Tony Espie (The Avalanches), the album has earned acclaim spanning Pitchfork, PASTE, BrooklynVegan, Exclaim!, Women That Rock, FLOOD, The Guardian and more. The collection is composed of broad, brightly coloured spiritual strokes and consists of dramatic retellings of having your heart broken, existing, movement, and growth. Bonus track, “If I Have It In Me At All”, is out today, October 30, with an accompanying live in-studio performance video. The track continues the themes explored throughout Messages To God and teases at more performance videos to come. Chadwick shares, “I write so many songs that there are always some casualties, some songs that I love that don’t end up making it onto a record for reasons other than my affection for them. This is one of those songs. It’s a love song written when I felt worried that I didn’t have enough to give. And I guess that still remains to be seen.”
Chadwick is a gifted and singular songwriter, uniquely attuned to the minutiae of human emotion, not unlike Phil Eleverum’s work as Mount Eerie and Daniel Johnston’s adventures on tape. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Chadwick’s songs are unsparing, brutal, and absolutely lovely. A prolific visual artist alongside her songwriting, Chadwick’s cover art of this record mirrors the slight alteration in tone; whereas previously, self-portraits of herself alone fronted her releases, now she has pictured herself amongst a group around a piano. Still not looking at peace, but surrounded by people, nonetheless.
Messages To God is a beautifully realized record. It’s not happy but it is funny and optimistic. It is melodramatic, self-serving and generous. Sometimes, from way back in the shitty seats of the theater, you’re at your closest to god. That’s what this record is like, finding beauty in everyday occurrences. Because it’s there. You just gotta look really hard sometimes. And as Chadwick provides, “Because every day’s just one more day / trying to write messages to god’’.