Saso – I Can Do Nice

I Can Do Nice

Saso’s lush, intricate music has been a pleasure of mine – and hopefully one I’ve let others know about – since hearing the band’s first EP, Warmed Up. At times feeling like orchestrated pop, at others like lush, textured instrumentation, the music is always flowing and beautiful. Now, with the release of I Can Do Nice, Dublin’s Saso reveals its most amazing album to date.

The production and electronic instrumentation, courtesy of Ben Rawlins, mixes beautifully with the organic instrumentation and soft vocals of Jim Lawler. Somehow, all the instrumentation feels organic and enveloping, such as the soft acoustic guitars on “Lost at Sea.” With added instrumentation from the Sullivan Barge Ensemble, commissioned exclusively for the project, the end result is often breathtaking.

The album requires repeated listens, to bring out the gorgeous strings and layered vocals on the chorus of “Lost at Sea” or the way the electronic pulsing beat and sounds mix with the acoustic guitar effortlessly on “Type A Jitters.” There’s several instrumentals here, some short to break up the songs with quiet interludes, and some longer and more intricate, like the softly folky “Nothing Personal,” which revolves around layers of acoustic guitar.

Lawler draws out his voice in a way that feels a bit similar to another Irish star, Bono, on the lightly poppy “Why Wait?” “Green Trees” may remind some of Radiohead, but the low-end bass and ambient backing noises provide a more moody accompaniment to Lawler’s vocals. Perhaps my favorite track here is the beautifully flowing “Artefact,” a song filled with lush backing vocals of an angelic quality, soft and melodic guitar, and a drifting, enveloping white noise. The title track feels more like a pop song, more organic and less layering on the vocals, and it works quite nicely, while the dreamy folk influences of “Turn Your Back” are supplemented by gorgeous brush drums and light guitar. Another favorite is the starkly pretty “Pass it By,” on which the piano sounds like it echoes through a concert hall, and the vocals change up nicely, complimenting the melancholy feel.

I Can Do Nice is gorgeous, but in its most quiet moments, it’s also stark in its melancholy, its revealing glimpses into the songwriter’s deepest thoughts, and it’s provocative in the way all good music should be. But the music itself evokes the same feel of Sigur Ros, perhaps, mixed with a Low-like calmness and precision. Amazing production, astounding songwriting, and gorgeous instrumentation makes this the best Saso release to date, and it’s a new favorite album I plan to listen to again and again.