Sarah Mary Chadwick
Eating For Two
10 Track, LP (2012, Bedroom Suck)
Related: Batrider, Sarah Mary Chadwick.
The inspiration for Sarah Mary Chadwick's first solo record can be gleaned almost entirely from the album title. Eating for Two sees her suffer in somebody's absence – completely, hopelessly and heart-wrenchingly suffer. Her vocal swims underneath gentle reverb and the subtle distortion of her lone guitar and – without the obscuration of her Batrider bandmates – it feels she has been left to her own devices as a musician too. It's a record informed by absences, both thematically and sonically, the end result leaving Sarah Mary Chadwick very, very alone.
Eating for Two details feelings of loss, inadequacy and loneliness, describing a life in an indefinite period of self-pity. "I am nearly perfect in my sorrow/But perfect for you I will never be," she admits early in the album, an admission that flavours its entirety. For Chadwick, dwelling in her sorrow seems to be an addiction rather than a phase. After all, Eating for Two is not concerned with exhilarating highs and lows – only the rut and mourning that ensues indefinitely.
Romanticising the end of her relationship on 'Is It Tonight,' relinquishing hope on 'Don't Try at All' and barely smiling through good days on 'Mostly Mostly', Chadwick lives the pain with barely a musical accompaniment. "It's not hurting less, but I'm making the best of it" she admits on 'Just Like Holding Shards’, but in that track lies at least a fleeting moment of growth. Staring into a broken life, she moans, "When I'm alone, I watch the walls inside the pit and see your face." Doing so seems to allow for some welcome realism. "It feels exactly like standing by you," Chadwick remembers.
There are other signs of her salvation. The record starts with some hesitant optimism in lead single 'Fools Like Me,' while later 'Knots Unwind' expresses the false hope of moving on, like the rush following a shared bus-stop smile. "Suddenly I feel alright," Chadwick yelps. But of course, her explanations as to why things are on the up are all obscured by reverb and her own dubbed-over backing vocal; instead of sympathising with her, you quickly cotton on to her naivety. "When life goes good it goes right on/Like someone turned a big light on," she sings, as if in this sudden epiphany of realised freedom, she forgets that even though the start of a new day can birth new feelings, the end of it will probably recall the old ones. With the album finishing on 'I Could Have Lived Without You,' it's clear that yesterday's rut is never completely gone.
Eating for Two may be therapy for Chadwick, but for us it's voyeurism, and it's hard not to sympathise with this personal descent. At times Chadwick can feel like a friend going through a rough patch, a friend that’s beyond comfort. As a recorded piece, there’s nothing you can do but watch it all happen. It’s this thematic distance, combined with the sonic absences, that make Eating for Two such a devastating listen.
by Max Easton