by David Royko
SONG UP IN HER HEAD
If we were to judge Sarah Jarosz, who was still 17 when this was recorded (she’s 18 now), by the company she’s keeping on her Sugar Hill debut “Song Up In Her Head,” well, she’s doing pretty darn well: Chris Thile, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Ben Sollee, Tim O’Brien, Mark Schatz, Mike Marshall, Abigail Washburn, Darrell Scott, Chris Eldridge, to give only a partial run down.
By the third track, it’s pretty obvious why such top-flight players chose to be a part of this project—she’s already a top-flight artist herself. Her voice, though youthful, has a slightly world-weary tinge that draws a degree of expression that’s rare in someone her age. Whether she’s playing mandolin, guitar, or clawhammer banjo, she sounds natural and relaxed, and superb.
As a songwriter, Jarosz promises to be a major force. No dogs in this bunch (the title track, the exhilarating “Left Home,” both of her instrumentals—all highlights), but special mention must go to “Edge Of A Dream,” a coming-of-age evocation with a melodic grace that, again, is striking coming from a teenager.
From all indications, Sarah Jarosz is a major addition to the acoustic scene, her introduction to us among the best releases of the year. (Sugar Hill, PO Box 120897, Nashville, TN, sugarhillrecords.com.) DR