Sarah Jarosz is one-third of the trio I’m With Her, which I featured in last week’s edition of Saturday Music. In addition to their work with the band, each of these very talented young women has a robust solo career. Saturday Music will focus on their music as individuals over the next three weeks, beginning with the gifted singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz.
I began hearing Jarosz at venues such as the Red Wing Roots Music Festival when she was in her early twenties and already an established artist. The bio from her website captures Jarosz’s amazing rise from her teenage debut:
“With her captivating voice and richly detailed songwriting, Sarah Jarosz has emerged as one of the most compelling musicians of her generation. A three-time Grammy Award-winner at the age of 28, the Texas native started singing as a young girl and became an accomplished multi-instrumentalist by her early teens. After releasing her full-length debut Song Up in Her Head at 18-years-old, she went on to deliver such critically lauded albums as Follow Me Down, Build Me Up From Bones, and 2016’s Undercurrent, in addition to joining forces with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan to form the acclaimed Grammy winning folk trio I’m With Her.”
Jarosz’s songwriting is very lyrical, often with a chamber music quality as seen in the title song from Build Me Up From Bones. From her album Undercurrent, the intense House of Mercy is about an abusive relationship, with the emotion pouring through both the vocal and instrumentation. Jaroz is also a wonderful song interpreter, as seen in her version of Bob Dylan’s Ring Them Bells.
An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, her most distinctive instrument is an octave mandolin, which is similar in size to a mandocello but tuned differently. Her octave — built by Northfield Mandolins —is tuned just like a regular mandolin, but an octave lower. She uses is to great effect on many of her songs, giving them a deeper and darker sound.
Jarosz’s most recent video is part of a special project developed by Chris Thile, the host of NPR’s Live From Here. With the coronavirus shutting down live versions of the show, Thile asked some of his regular guests to post Live From Home videos. Jarosz was one of the first asked, and she plays a beautiful version of James McMurty’s Childish Things, on what appears to be an old Kay guitar.
World On The Ground, her newest album, is set for release on June 5th, with Johnny as the first single from that album. It is anyone’s guess if the festival will take place, but Sarah Jarosz is slated to appear on July 11th at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. I certainly hope we will all have a chance to see her in live performance soon.
More to come…