Ah the 80s love ballad. So much pining, so many over the top declarations, so many gloved drummers using that same snare sound. Yeah, they’re tacky as hell and many haven’t aged well since grunge and hip-hop forced their coup de tat in popular music. Yet there is something about these songs that just bare it all. These days if your songwriting isn’t laced with irony or mumbled to perfection then chances are you won’t make it into the cool club.
It’s time to revisit the 80s as Sarah Belkner and Katie Wighton cover Chicago and their classic ballad Hard To Say I’m Sorry. Cue the heartbreak.
Needless to say if a song like Chicago’s Hard To I’m Sorry was released today it’d bomb big time*. 1982 was a long time ago, so hearing it now is very nostalgic. Not because it’s old but because its ideas of romanticism are so old fashioned. So upon hearing that Sarah Belkner had teamed up with Katie Wighton to cover the Peter Cetera classic was one to cause a bit of excitement.
Alt-pop songstress Sarah Belkner has been playing a residency showcase at The Newsagency in Marrickville for the last three weeks, each week performing with a different special guest. Last night it was heart-breaking Katie Wighton (check out our review of the show tomorrow) and as she’s done the last two weeks Belkner performed a cover with her guest. Hard To Say I’m Sorry is a track that was very close to Belkner, having heard her parents play it on vinyl countlessly when she was a kid.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217888667″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
For those who aren’t familiar with Chicago here’s a quick history. The band gained popularity in the 70s with a signature of soft-rock and use of horns. Hard To Say I’m Sorry was a big departure from that sound, stripping back the horns and focusing more layered synths. It’s a classic breakup song anchored by Peter Cetera’s voice.
The cover the Belkner/ Wighton combo deliver is close to perfect. Wighton takes lead with the vocals, her light vocals syncing up with Belkner’s more smoky tones nicely. The pair emulate the heartbreak Cetera captured so well way back when. The track itself is just acoustic guitar and piano, further stripping back the original. It’s a confessional track and their treatment leaves it bare boned as ever. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it ticks all the right boxes for those bleeding heart romantics and romantics with bleeding hearts.
Sarah’s final show at The Newsagency is next Wednesday August 12, with special guest Maples, so if you’re in need of an intimate mid-week gig you know where to go.
*Ed. No it would not. Soak it in: