Albums I Love: Sarah Jarosz – “Undercurrent”

I am so incredibly excited for the weekend.

Chris Thile + The Punch Brothers, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan… ALL IN ONE SHOW!

Perfect timing, because Sarah Jarosz’s new album came out on June 17th, and Sara Watkins’ will be out on July 1st. My ears are very, very happy.

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Sara Jarosz – “Undercurrent”

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of child prodigies. They tend to be all flash and skill, too many notes and not enough soul. I love a fast guitar solo as much as the next guitar nerd, but it has to make me feel something. If you show me a ten year old who can play guitar miles and miles above anything I can do (not hard, these days), I’ll tell you I’d rather hear him again in 15 years when he’s had his heart broken and gained some life experience to give meaning to those five million notes. It’s pretty judgemental, cynical, and presumptuous, I know. I also sound like a total hypocrite, considering Chris Thile and Sara Watkins got their start in the child prodigy supergroup, Nickel Creek. The greatest thing to me is hearing them develop past the flash of their younger days. I hear something new every time I listen to a Punch Brother’s album, and seeing Sara sing “Lock & Key” live in March brought me to tears. While I love Nickel Creek, what I love even more is seeing these phenomenally talented child prodigies continue to grow as musicians with something to say.

And now to the child prodigy of the hour!

Born and raised in Texas with a voice straight out of Appalachia, Sarah Jarosz released her first album while she was still in high school. I had NO IDEA she was that young when I first heard it. Something about that album really resonated with me, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This girl is a year younger than me, and I feel totally slayed when I watch her, much more than I ever do when I see a 10 year old play the “Beat It” solo on YouTube.

This is Sarah in 2009. Her song and sound are full of innocence with none of the contrived flash. I hear an old soul resonating through the sweet voice of this young woman who is just beginning to tap into her potential.

With several Grammy nominations, three albums, and a degree from the New England Conservatory of Music under her belt, Ms. Jarosz released “Undercurrent” just a week ago.

I’ve been listening to all of her albums on repeat in an attempt to connect the dots of her musical evolution. There’s also an element of camaraderie since we’re so close in age, went to music school, and eventually ended up in NYC. While she was recording that first album, I was obsessing over Gillian Welch and contemplating majoring in Appalachian Studies. I want to see if she grew to see the world the same way I did in o Continue reading

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