Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dreams of growing up

Yes, I've featured Sarah Jarosz within the past week or so, and usually don't repeat myself so swiftly. What can I say. I've been watching a number of her videos and interviews on YouTube. What's interesting is that a) Sarah Jarosz managed to get a #1 hit album (albeit on the bluegrass charts) while looking like a normal person, not like a slut or a willowy blonde (or red-head), and b) most young people who experience that kind of success at a young age turn out to be a neurotic mess (see previous video), but I've been watching a number of her videos on YouTube, and Sarah is anything but neurotic -- she interacts with her audiences, she performs her songs, when she's interviewed she seems refreshingly down to earth and, well, normal. Maybe it's because her stuff is marketed as "bluegrass" that she can avoid all that music industry bullshit, but she seems to be a genuinely nice young normal person who happens to have quite a bit of talent. So much for the whole tortured artist thing, I guess...

So anyhow, this is "Edge of a Dream", which appears to be a song about growing up and that strange transition from teenager to adulthood that you're supposed to make when you hit that magic 18th birthday. It's on her album Song Up In Her Head, which was recorded in 2008, when she was 17 years old. And it's just her, a guitar, and her voice. No place to hide if you have no talent or if you're a neurotic mess...

BTW, according to, Sarah Jarosz's new album, Follow Me Down, is coming out on May 17. A lot of things have happened in her life since 2009 -- she's graduated high school, gotten a Grammy nomination, moved to Boston to attend the New England Conservatory of Music, spent a while away from home. It will be interesting to see what effect this has had on her music. Given how well-grounded she seems to be, I suspect any surprises will be pleasant ones.

All of which is to say that I think this is one of my more pleasant finds of all the new music I've presented to you over the past four years. There's others that I enjoy on a more visceral level. Scout Niblett's noisy guitar-driven deranged tunes, for example. But Sarah Jarosz has the whole package and is only at the start of her career...

-- Badtux the Music Penguin

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