Sari Schorr & The Engine Room

A Force Of Nature

(Manhaton Records)

If veteran record producer Mike Vernon takes an interest in an act, any follower of rock/blues music should take a listen, at the very least. Here he is producing the record, as he did recently with our man Laurence Jones.

On this album, Sari spearheads what you might term a pokey band, using their pointed sound and sense of dynamics to deliver the songs. Many are written by the singer and face some grim topics – heroin on Aunt Hazel, greed on Ain’t Got No Money and domestic violence on Damn The Reason. This touch of what Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman explore in their songs adds a depth and personal feel to the overall collection. It surprises me how many current female performers base so much of their material entirely on their own romantic dilemmas. I value storytelling. The presence of guitar ace and singer Innes Sibun explains a lot of the album’s crisp sound and depth, but there is also room for guest spots from Oli Brown and Walter Trout. A core group out in Spain shaped the record up – including keys man Julian Maeso, bassist Nani Conde, drummer Jose Mena, guitarist Quique Bonal.

Damn The Reason sounds so purposeful you just get drawn in; the stealthy tempo and neat wah on Cat & Mouse work well. She is singing, not shouting..hooray

I thought when looking at the titles that Demolition Man might be the song recorded by Grace Jones but it turns out to be a Schorr original, about the legalization of prostitution and shot through with Johnny Winter style slide guitar.

Work No More is a Trout composition with that squealing axe leading the way that only Walter really can and prompting a sterling vocal from Schorr. Leadbelly classic Black Betty has had several successful takes by various artists. Here, Sari goes from elemental Deep South to full throttle at a minute in. Letting Go is a lovely ballad with the best singing on the disc imho, a hint of Sarah Vaughan or Peggy Lee (and on that please see my chat with the artist on this site).

Kiss Me rolls into what is very much your scribe’s musical sphere – psychedelic rock and has Oli Brown aboard. Great song and lyric evoking Cold Blood, for those cognoscenti out there. Plaintive chorus guitar and an ominous chord progression complete with deep register guitar solo and pattering drumbeat.

The Motown gem Stop In The Name of Love gets almost Vanilla Fudged here but the vocal is top notch again. Maybe the intent was to Muscle Shoal the tune, it works. Hey, I’d like to hear Sari do Reflections!

Ordinary Life is about gratitude, a bit of a rare commodity these days when many will take you and your efforts for granted. Cool piano and an airy feel make this a fine set closer.

In a fairly crowded musical field, let’s hope Sari Schorr can get a hearing for her original songs and her own brand of electric soul..she and this lineup deserve it.

Sari Schorr

Pete Sargeant 

Sari Schorr and the Engine Room’s debut album ‘A Force of Nature’ is out now on Manhaton Records.

You can read our interview with Sari here: 

 For gigs and more information just check out