Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sarah Jarosz: Song Up in Her Head




Song Up in Her Head

Texan Sarah Jarosz’s debut album is filled with a baker’s dozen of cuts which take their start in bluegrass and use that as a jumping off point to head toward folk, country, blues, and a few other things thrown in, a bending and blending of style and genres which you might almost expect from an artist raised in the Texas hill country. Jarosz sings in a warm, flexible voice that’s all her own, but reminding a bit of fellow Texans Rosie Flores and Terri Hendrix. She wrote eleven of the tracks, and a writer and a player, and in some her phrasing as a singer, she calls to mind Tim O’Brien -- they both favor musical adventure at every turn, adventure rooted in heritage music and speaking to the twenty first century.

O’Brien guests on the album, and Jarosz, who plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, and piano on various tracks, is also supported by an A list roster of other musicians, including Ben Sollee, Darrell Scott, Abigail Washburn, Stuart Duncan, and Aoife O’Donovan. Gary Paczosa, who has worked with Kelly Willis, the Greencards, and Alison Krauss among others, produced the project, leaving plenty of space both for Jarosz’s voice and the interaction among instruments.

I first saw Sarah Jarosz play in Austin about five years ago, and it’s been interesting to see her grown into her talents as a singer, player, and songwriter.
From all that’s said above, what you might not expect is that Sarah Jarosz is seventeen, a recent high school graduate, heading of to music school in Boston this fall. She offers an album that's both beyond her years and completely right for them, and for where she is as an artist.

Outstanding tracks on this release include Edge of a Dream, Fischer Store Road, Long Journey, and a cover ot the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan song Come On Up to the House. Not so outstanding, not from her version of it, but from the song itself, a cover of The Decembrists' Shankill Butchers. If Jarosz wanted show that she can handle song with a dark edge, she should have chosen another way than this song about a murderous gang in Belfast during the troubles. That jarring note aside, it's a fine debut album.

you may also want to see

Music Road: now playing: Crooked Still: Still Crooked
Music Road: now playing: Claire Lynch: Crowd Favorites
Music Road: Alison Krauss: Live from the Tracking Room: A Hundred Miles or More

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

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