Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-born singer/songwriter Sarah Khatami, was raised in a tight-knit community where she found her voice in singing and songwriting. This was followed by years of self-development in a performing arts high school and a degree from the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Now based in Bushwick, the singer now returns with her debut album stalemate, an 11-track body of work that covers experiences from her first-ever heartbreak. It takes audiences from the high to the lowest points and the many in-betweens and grey areas of this thing called love. The project was birthed with the aid of her producer Dave Fugel alongside instrumentalists Mike Brightly (acoustic guitar), Brandon Jackson (strings) and Carlo De Biaggio (bass)

The project opens up with  “save a lil daylight for me”, a smooth dreamy tune that sets the tone with a young Sarah yearning for love from a fleeting partner. She cries out asking if they can save a little daylight for her in terms of affection. She details the lengths she would go to prove her love with candid lyrics that evoke unfiltered vulnerability and continues with the introspective “brain”. The track is introduced by warm guitar licks, and hushed drums peppered by Sarah’s nasally vocal runs which flow over the beat like a calming waterfall. On “smoke alarm”, she sings about coping with anxiety and intrusive thoughts that keep triggering her even when nothing is wrong. Lines like “and the smoke alarm been going off and I think it’s all my fault” show her comparing her anxiety to a faulty smoke alarm that keeps going off.

Sarah doesn’t shy from divulging certain aspects of her past relationship and even the tiniest details that add to the big picture are presented over the tracks. “Can this be for life without the promise of a future/I know that it is way too much to ask/Oh we both had our faults and this is my half” gives audiences a moment of truth from the singer on the solemn “hope you know” which is buttressed by the “half love-interlude”. Both tracks are intertwined in theme as they detail the dynamics of a one-sided relationship where one party is pushing more than the other. The emotional roller coaster continues on the tracks “don’t make me laugh” and the brooding “guilty”. The former captures Sarah’s state of clarity when she confronts her fears and ultimately her partner in an emotional showdown of sorts. The latter sees Sarah as being comfortable with who she is when her ex tries to play the victim with false accusations.She doesn’t budge and stands on business because her intentions are clean. The title track “stalemate” shows the climax of the drama she endured even after putting all her energy into making the relationship work to no avail.

“rose water” follows Sarah as she finds the perfect getaway far from the turmoil but ends up being reminded of the past by different motifs and memories like from shared music. This alone triggers the suppressed memories and feelings she tries to get away from. The record is quite expressive and employs a simple but enthralling acoustic guitar arrangement as the perfect backdrop for Sarah’s vivid and emotionally driven songwriting and soul-stirring melodies. The project closes out with the summer-drenched “over you” and lounge jazzy “i sold the couch (on and on)”, the former serves as a final goodbye to her past love while the latter helps put the final nail on the emotional coffin. She recounts some fond memories with lucidity which is tied to a couch that acts as raison d’être of the rush of emotions. However, the item was sold but the memories it harboured linger on somewhere as she sings “‘cause if I don’t reminisce, will we cease exist? /or if I don’t dwell on every detail, will we drift?”.


It should be noted that stalemate is as conceptual as can be and while the love story serves as the central plot, Sarah connects the dots with a plethora of motifs, nuances and references. This ranges from the number of tracks (11)-which marks her and her ex’s anniversary, to the chess theme because she and her ex bonded with that game. Overall, it’s far from being a sob story but more like a semi-autobiographical account of how she endured and overcame heartbreak in her little and unique way.

Sarah has an album release show at The Sultan Room in Brooklyn, NY on July 9th.




Cover Art & Spotify Canvases: Carl Rickard


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