Friday, September 6, 2013

Sarah Jarosz "Build Me Up From Bones" Album Review

I said and thought it a million times before, "there is very little music these days that excites me". Sure, there is a lot of music that I love, but not much that sends a jolt of electricity through my entire body and makes me smile a stupid mile wide grin while I listen in my ear buds on the train (and people assumably look at me like I have a screw loose). Chris Thile (who I have remarked as the best and most exciting musician I will ever encounter in my lifetime) has been the one exception and "How To Grow a Woman From the Ground" is one of those examples. The type of record that illicit that absolutely blown away, dumbfounded by the intense beauty, stupid grin have been limited to one or two works...that was until I picked up this new record.

Sarah Jarosz's new record "Build Me Up From Bones" is one of those works that sends chills down my body one minute, and has me tapping my foot relentlessly the next. The musicianship on this record is incredible and unparalelled, the vocals are pure and emotion-driven, and there is superb variety contained within. There is just a groove and a vibe that Sarah injects into the performances on this work that is truly unique and wonderful. The octave mandolin makes a pretty regular appearance and has a very distinct sound to it. A sound, that if not placed in capable hands can run wild...Jarosz corrals that sound to create something truly magnificent throughout the course of this record (in addition to all her other instrumental performances as well!)

The first song "Over the Edge" kicks in hard. There are some extremely rich textures and overlapping instrumentation going on here. A throbbing string line between verses, intense vocal harmonies. Jarosz vocal is mature but has a striking innocence to it that captivates the listener. The exchange of electric instrument parts and traditional instrument parts is a great juxtaposition of sound as they trade lead lines back and forth. It's really just quite beautiful, walking the line between bluegrass twang and jazzy shimmer. There is some heart in this gal's singing, thats for damn sure.

 Hanging out, hanging out over the edge

"Fuel the Fire" is another stand out that gets me moving a bit from the first note. It has a groove pushed forward by the consistent pluck of the banjo. It just takes a hold over me and makes me want to shake. A real barn-burner kind of track. The high sonic register of the mandolin, the low throbbing bass, everything is just so perfectly placed and you are in the eye of a storm of sound spinning around you and you don't want that storm to ever clear.

"Mile on the Moon" is just a simply gorgeous song. It has a slow, walking kind of pace. A tremolo guitar ringing in the back. A very atmospheric kind of a feel, with the acoustic instruments slowly pattering, and the songwriting is impeccable. The octave on this track shines, the solo is incredible, solid but simple and just enough flair to really stand out. Everything about this song is perfect to me. The arrangement is incredible, the instrumentation is so perfectly placed, the lyrics are fantastic. I have found a new songwriter for my "top 5" list.

If I ever wake up, at the right time
If I ever wake  up, I'll find a way to change your mind

The title track is a solid tune that has that steady groove courtesy of the mandolin lines, then backed by the picked cello and fiddle. Just a really great composition that I enjoy listening to over and over.

Taking a popular tune by one of the best (if not THE quintessential) songwriters of all time is a feat attempted by many, and accomplished by few. Jarosz takes Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" and makes it all her own. The annunciation of the words, the backing of the music, it all blends to perfection. An ambiance surrounds the track and Sarah's voice is peaking through the fog, floating effortlessly over a track that has been morphed into something all its own (I found myself saying, "I feel like I know this" before finally realizing its origins - that's how much she owns this song). Its a wonderful take on a classic song adapted for an artist with a wonderful, uniquely blended sound.

This record solidifies Sarah as an act that will stand the test of time and can stand up in all venues.
Whether thats AMA radio, pop radio, or college radion...a festival stage, or an intimate listening room. I love this girl's music. Its just plain great and extremely well executed music here. The songs arrangements are so incredibly thoughtful that once you listen (really listen) you can truly appreciate that thought. But still, you can just close your eyes and drift away into your headphones with the music too. I am glad I found her and you will be too.

Sarah will be back in town on September 14th at The Sinclair in Harvard Square (buy tickets here). I am honestly depressed that I cannot make it since I will be out of the country, but I strongly encourage those who haven't (and those who have, for that matter) to go to this show and check out the amazing music that this young lady is putting out.

Sarah's website is:

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