Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coming thing

Sarah Jarosz is 18 years old in this video, where she proudly plays one of the songs she just wrote that she intends to have on her next album, even though her first album (recorded at age 17) had just been released. And indeed, "Come Around" is on the new album, Follow Me Down, which was released last month.

I won't say that Follow Me Down is the must-have album of the year -- it's good, but not one of those albums that will forever be considered a "classic" -- but it is interesting to see the growth in Sarah's songwriting since her first album, Song Up In Her Head. It's been a crazy two years for Sarah, between starting college, getting a Grammy nomination, and songwriting, recording, and touring, with plenty of opportunity for growth in all that. But what is most appealing to me about this album is the sense of sheer joy that you get from it. Sarah is having the time of her life and her joy and enthusiasm shines through.

BTW, the album version has Sarah's octave mandolin as the center piece, but also puts full instrumentation around it. This particular song is almost the same as the album version, which adds banjo and fiddle, but most of the other songs, when I hear them live, I hear the spaces where the other instruments like drums, pedal steel, and electric guitar go (yes, electric guitar). Sarah doesn't play the full band version live because she's a college student. She can't afford a full band. She's got a couple of friends who play fiddle and cello/bass with her, and occasional special guest stars (like when Shawn Colvin showed up at one of her Austin gigs), and neither Sarah nor the audience seems to care that the song would sound even better with a full band, it's all good. Still, that's probably the biggest difference in underlying musicology between this album and the first album. Sarah is no longer writing solo singer-songwriter material. She's writing for an ensemble -- she's writing for a band. She doesn't have a band, yet. But she will.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

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