To describe Sandpaper Dolls as an a cappella group is about as accurate as saying that Nina Simone was a pianist. It’s true, but it is not the whole truth.
There is more to the music of Suki Anderson, Amber Estes Thieneman (Young Scamels) and Rebecca Dennison than the remarkable sound of three women conjuring music with their voices alone. They lure their listeners into well appointed rooms of familiar comforts but before we have time to lean back on customary expectations of a cappella music, their music politely informs us that our expectations will be of little use. The curtains drawn aside, we’re offered a view of territory where the unaccompanied voice may still claim new ground.
Sandpaper Dolls explore song with a steadiness and confidence that cannot be achieved by mere familiarity or studious listening alone. They understand music and the power inherent in the human voice. Their songs are an elaboration of that understanding.
Contemplative tone studies broker glorious agreements with Gospel and Vocal Jazz. The unsettling tones of the baroque shadow-shift amid the triumphant plaintiveness of the field holler. Afrobeat lies down with avant garde on a bed of peat moss. The lyrical content nods once at the playful and common, then at the distinctly darker elements of loss and uncertainty.
Melody revels in her devotion to her sisters Story, Rhythm, Breath and Wonder. In listening to the music of Sandpaper Dolls, we’re reminded that the human voice is the original instrument and we are delighted to discover that it yields new pleasures still. Hallelujah.