Surviving the sophomore slump and coming out ‘On the Other Side’

By Kelli Raulerson

March 13, 2017

The “sophomore slump” is the musical equivalent of an old wives’ tale: It’s either a totally made-up phenomena meant to scare, or it’s a genuine inescapable fact of life. Sophomore albums seem to indicate a lack of energy. A direct result no doubt of the endless touring that is required of musicians these days.

Luckily for Sinners & Saints they don’t seem to be running out of energy any time soon. The duo made up of Perry Fowler and Mark Baran are back with their brand of folk – acoustic, country-tinged tunes accentuated by their harmonies and punctuated with foot-stomping percussion. Recorded at EMR Recorders with Doug Williams, the album also includes support from Geoff White, Wesley Hamilton, and Davey Blackburn.

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Since their first release in 2014 – Love and Misery – seems daily life has lent itself to more than enough material for their second album. Starting with the first track, “Up Like the Sun, Down Like the Rain,” this collection of songs offers a look at relationship challenges and the contradiction between perception and reality for life as a musician. Also there’s a howling dog – a surprising highlight which seems to perfectly sum up their attitudes towards both topics.

Whether unfulfilled promises to a loved one as in “Meant” and “Carry On” or disappointment and guilt associated with chasing a dream, their often cheeky reflections are accepting while remaining defiant. Their simplistic, everyman writing style remains a strength on this album – easily conveying emotions highlighted by effortless melodies to resonate with listeners.

Music is a career choice that doesn’t offer a clear path to success. Merely having talent, working hard (both traits of Sinners & Saints) and staying the course despite all odds will get you into music…definitely won’t propel you forward.

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Perry Fowler and Mark Baran of Sinners & Saints

On the Other Side makes peace with the realities of life as a musician and in a tongue-in-cheek way – laughs in its face. The wear and tear of a life dedicated to the pursuit of music or arts isn’t always understood by its consumers – especially those with desk jobs. “Music Man” and “Nobody Left to Believe” feels like a view of the frustration felt from the stage at the recognition of this disparity – and a peaceful call to arms. “Ready to Go” offers perspective of the slow death that comes with a nine to five for artists and a life lived feeling misunderstood.

If you know Perry or Mark then you’ll agree it’s no exaggeration to describe these two as some of the nicest human beings you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They’re talented and involved in a number of projects in and around the Charlotte community. Both embody what a community should aspire to become – continually curating opportunities for other artists in an effort to sustain local arts.

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Mark Baran and Perry Fowler of Sinners & Saints

In many ways their sophomore album feels like a love letter to those kindred spirits and those that support them. And because of their involvement they’ve been around long enough to not take the up and downs too seriously. It’s a glimpse into who Sinners & Saints are as people and artists. They’ve survived – lived life, learned some lessons and have come out on the other side better for it.

Sinners & Saints album release party happens at Neighborhood Theatre on April 15.

Listen to the new album On The Other Side by Sinners & Saints

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