Australian Sarah Blasko arrived in the U.S. in 2005 with a pedigree that could not be ignored: trailing a list of ARIA Award nominations in the categories of Best Album, Best Female Artist, Best Breakthrough Artist, and Best Pop Release, she also distinguished herself -- and perked the ears of rock skeptics -- by being tagged somewhere along her cross-continental journey with the moniker Girliohead. The comparisons are not unfounded. Like Radiohead and the countless lovelorn, world-weary, too-smart-for-their-own-good British piano pounders that the band spawned, Blasko is an appealing wallower. Her ethereal, at times Fiona Apple-like voice rides the gentle arrangements on her debut full-length, The Overture & the Underscore, taking care never to redirect them, and her lyrics evoke an atmospheric grace that burrows into the mind's dark recesses. Blasko's head space is the kind that's allergic to daylight.It has been reported that Blasko sung her first songs in church alongside her tone-deaf mother and an 80-year-old soprano, but the influences that come across more readily in her music derive from the '80s radio and television she heard as a child -- Prince, David Bowie, and Eurythmics. Those popular acts, combined with the composers her professor father introduced her to -- Rachmaninov, Schubert, and Bach -- formed a pleasing musical jumble she would later pick apart and repackage into digestible, brainy pop. In high school, Blasko led a jazz- and blues-influenced band with her sister that soon dissolved; other bands followed, but within the space of a few years Blasko was determinedly a solo act, and also something of a homebody.
A first EP, the six-song Prelusive, issued in 2004, was routinely referred to as "homespun." But its promise propelled Blasko. Later that year, with The Overture & the Underscore racking up fans in Australia, the artist pulled up stakes and landed in Hollywood. After the disc's 2005 release stateside, Blasko embarked on tours with Ray LaMontagne and Martha Wainwright. Her second full-length album, What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, was released in Australia in 2006, debuting at number seven on the ARIA chart.
-Tammy La Gorce