Canberra’s SAULÉ surprises and satisfies with the sparse sonic palette of WHEN WE FIRST WENT OUT

Review by Vince Leigh

Canberra-based artist Saulé has followed up her debut single from last year, Let Me Know with When We First Went Out, and the singer-songwriter’s penchant for lo-fi restraint combined with subtle pop hooks continues. 

The new track utilises a relatively sparse palette of voice, acoustic guitar, and percussion to initiate proceedings. Saulé’s method invariably surprises and satisfies. What begins as a bare, roots-based song with a slight whimsical veneer culminates in quite an optimistic-sounding scenario indeed—some curious production ideas to take note of first. 

The verse contains some jazz-like branching off that keeps the listener on their toes until the pre-chorus arrives. Although masquerading as a continuation of the verse, its momentary drop acts as another signpost for what follows. 

Straying off from the song’s title, which ignites a remarkable degree of inferences, are some tantalising melodic lines that quite simply remind this listener of summer. Any summer. 

Of course, Saulé’s appropriation of harmonies and other vocal layers contrive to create this vista, though one cannot discount the agility of the melodic swerves and turns that happen here. The sharp difference between the verse, pre-chorus sections, and the chorus is par for the course, expected and effective but evocative too; dynamism intact and the hook of the pay-off lines unchallenged. 

There seems to be an agelessness about When We First Went Out, or rather, that it has ingrained within its cells the characteristics identified with other eras, imbuing the track with quite a generative aesthetic. 

And what Saulé has created is mollifyingly focused and comprehensive. The sound is consistent throughout, enabling the lyric and melody to conjure their charm, with Saulé’s vocal performance as pliantly raw as it is exquisite. 

At a sub-atomic level, When We First Went Out encompasses the narrative of the personal, the intimate. But as we pan out and away, we discover a soulful musical statement that hints at a crowd-pleasing light-filled future.

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