Sara Storer has a particular authenticity not too often seen in contemporary Australian country music. As many successful artists seem more Americanised, and more pop-influenced, Storer makes defiantly old-fashioned, deeply Australian music, rough edges and all. It’s when she leans into these edges that her music is at its best.
Silos actually opens with what may be its least interesting song, My Diamond. Over quaintly strummed guitar and bass, Storer reminisces about her youth spent on her parents’ wheat farm – “teach me how to drive a straight plough line Dad”. Whilst her memories seem personal, and are written with an impressive level of detail, it’s difficult to shake the impression the song doesn’t contain much but nostalgia, with little in the way of emotion to offset the simplistic instrumental. In fact, the album doesn’t pick up until the 4th track, Colours Fade. The song is an intimate piano confessional, with Storer longing to re-live her youth. When she sings “I would give anything to be back there with them” in the chorus, the longing in her voice is palpable, and quite moving. It actually deals with similar subject matter to the opener, but in a much more emotional way that plays to Storer’s strengths.
The best track on the record is The Ghost, with Storer shelving her wistfulness and replacing it with a menacing swagger. Surrounded by plucked banjos and sweeping strings, she sings “I’ll make you suffer like a real man should”, and the sentiment lends her a much needed edge that isn’t apparent until this track. The only real misstep on the second half of the album is Mascara & Song, with the track’s Celtic melodies sitting uncomfortably next to the more traditional folk stylings of the other songs. Storer’s accent even seems to slip towards Scottish, which betrays just how endearing her traditional, very Australian accent is.
Whilst one attempt at experimentation may fail, it’s more than made up for on the stunning closing track, It Don’t Mean Jack. Storer sings what appears to be a rain song, about the smallness of existence when compared to the power of nature. The reverberated percussion seems to evoke outdoor spaces and storms, with twinkling pianos sounding like dripping water. By the time strings swell towards the song’s powerful climax, Storer’s ability to write a powerful song is inarguable, and whilst it’s unfortunate that all of Silos can’t be held up to its high standard, it still shows what a talented artist she is.