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Sarah Jarosz could almost be considered a wunderkind when you take into account the large body of work the 22-year-old singer-songwriter has already created. In 2009 she released her first album, Song Up in Her Head, moved away from her hometown of Wimberley, Texas, and enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music. Since then, she has released one more studio album, 2011’s Follow Me Down, been featured in publications such as NPR and Rolling Stone, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2010. She even stopped by WERS early last year and performed a solo set with just her octave mandolin. This time she was backed by two musicians: Nat Smith on the cello and Alex Hargreaves on the acoustic guitar; Jarosz assumed her previous role on the octave mandolin. Her latest album, Build Me Up From Bones, was released last September and she treated us to three excellent new cuts off of it.
Jarosz started off with her newest single, “Over The Edge.” While the album cut of the song is roughly-hewn thanks to a handful of dirty slide guitars, her version today was sweeter yet still retained some of that initial grit. The song’s dusty melody instantly set the scene, sounding a lot like a bleak desert with her siren call of “hanging out, hanging out over the edge” echoing in the background.
Her next song was the album’s namesake and featured a much more gorgeous vocal melody and thoughtful additions from Smith on the cello. The song itself was nicely arranged and slowly built up to the lovelorn line: “I made time when time was all but gone. You’re the love I’ve always known.” There is a certain sadness to Jarosz’s music, but she has a talent of turning that sadness into a beautiful creature.
Her last song was “Mile On The Moon.” While the other two songs she played displayed strong leanings towards country and folk, this song was definitely reminiscent of an older style of music; namely the 70’s brand of MOR and soft rock. Hargreave’s acoustic guitar give this song a nice rhythmic backing while Jarosz laid down another sweet melody. Her songwriting is very subtle; there is a certain beauty to the way her songs slowly unfold and give the listener a vivid sense of scenery.
Jarosz’s current tour stretches out across most of the United States. She recently stopped in Cambridge at the Sinclair and her tour reaches most of the east coast as well as a handful of stops in the mid-west including a sold out show at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall. Build Me Up From Bones, her newest release, was produced by Gary Paczosa (who worked on Jarosz’s last two records) and features much more prominent additions from Hargreaves and Smith. Jarosz said she made it a point to feature her bandmates that she has been touring with for the better half of three years. If her performance at WERS is a sign of things to come, you can expect big things from Jarosz.