2017 Grammy Awards:
• Best Folk Album
• Best American Roots Performance: House of Mercy
"I really like that word," Sarah Jarosz says of the title of
Undercurrent, her fourth Sugar Hill album. "If you look up the definition,
it's 'an underlying feeling or influence' or 'a flow of water moving below the
surface.' To me, that really encompasses the feeling behind this record."
That evocative imagery is appropriate for Undercurrent, whose 11 original songs
seem to reveal new lyrical depth and sonic nuance with every listen. A gifted
multi-instrumentalist, a singularly expressive vocalist and a songwriter of rare
insight, Sarah Jarosz has been described by The New York Times as "one of
acoustic music's most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin
and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of
commercial and critical success."
Although it's her fourth album, Undercurrent is a milestone for Jarosz in more
ways than one. It's her first release since graduating with honors from the New
England Conservatory of Music, and her first since relocating to New York City.
"This is the first record I've made since being out on my own and
experiencing a lot of changes, and I think that that's reflected in the songs,"
Jarosz explains. "It's also the first record I've ever made that feels to me
like a complete thought, with a beginning, a middle and an ending. It's also the
first time I've made an album that doesn't have any covers on it. I wanted it to
feel like the rollercoaster ride that is life, so I put a lot of thought into
sequencing the songs. It was important for me to start with light, and then go
through darker times, and stubbornness and strength and weakness, and then end
up on a hopeful note."
Undercurrent is a sublimely resonant song cycle anchored around a haunting
quartet of songs written and performed solo by the artist: "Early Morning
Light," "Everything To Hide," "Take Another Turn" and "Jacqueline." The album
features several numbers co-written by Jarosz with a variety of collaborators
who also contributed to the recordings, including Luke Reynolds ("Green
Lights"), Jedd Hughes ("House Of Mercy"), Parker Millsap ("Comin' Undone") and
Aoife O'Donovan ("Still Life"). The latter track features O'Donovan, of Crooked
Still fame, as well as Nickel Creek co-founder Sara Watkins, Jarosz's bandmates
in their extracurricular trio I'm with Her. Undercurrent also includes two songs
co-written with the Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan, including the nostalgic “Back
Of My Mind”.
"I'm just trying to become more focused and more honest, and trying to be a
better listener and observer of the world around me," she asserts.
"That's what I tried to do on Undercurrent, and I'm really pleased with how true
this record feels to me. In some ways, it feels like my first record, in the
sense that it was the first time I could focus all of my energy on it.
Everything felt like it was leading to this moment."
"Her lyrics have a mystical streak, projecting love and loneliness across the landscape and the sky." - The New York Times
• Vinyl LP
• Limited Time Digital Download of Full Album
1. Early Morning Light
2. Green Lights
3. House of Mercy
4. Everything To Hide
5. Back of My Mind Side Two:
1. Comin' Undone
2. Take Another Turn
3. Lost Dog
4. Take Me Back
5. Still Life
Sara Jaroza’s ‘Undercurrent’ is a big surprise. Very nice, well recorded and dead silent background. I have listened to this album a half a dozen times the first day. Beautifully done and I can understand why this is a Grammy awarded album.