Hurricane Sarah Hits Georgia
Nashville dynamo Sarah Peacock has enormous stage presence that belies her small stature. Her on-stage energy makes her difficult to pin down, as does her music: Is it country? Rock? Power pop? Folk? Country-rock? (Whatever that is.) Ironically, it is this very pigeon-holing conundrum that makes her such an engaging performer.
With a voice that was goosebump-inducingly powerful one moment, and soft and supple as the cooing of a mourning dove the next, Peacock strutted through a strong set that began with the title cut from her 2009 debut album Straight for Your Heart, included a handful of new songs and a killer cover of Heart’s classic “Crazy on You” that absolutely blew the doors off the place. A gutsy cover it was, but this woman has the serious guitar and vocal chops to pull it off.
This night was a homecoming of sorts, as Peacock, who grew up in nearby Lawrenceville, shared very personal stories about being bullied relentlessly as a child (“The Cool Kids”) and a new song “Strong” about a close friend’s battle with an ongoing illness.
Most offerings were framed with positive messages of hope, perseverance and the better nature of the human spirit. “Hurricane,” which she wrote during a tour stop in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy and would win best song in the 2014 American Songwriting Awards, came about as her attitude toward northerners changed when she experienced first-hand their selfless cooperation and welcoming spirit amidst such devastation. It’s a gorgeous song, highlighting her softer, subtle and smoky side, with a riff echoing the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”
“Georgia,” an obvious crowd favorite — also from her debut album — soared with contemporary country love-song balladry and a nod to her self-proclaimed unapologetic Christianity:
Sometimes it hurts so bad and I just can’t stand
To be so far away
I need your touch, I need your love
But there will come a day
When missing you is only just a memory I can say
I’ve got Jesus and Georgia and it’s all gonna be OK
Peacock obviously really, really loves Georgia. And Jesus.
The blazing highlight was her flawless cover of “Crazy on You,” from the instrumental opening straight through the soaring vocals – if you closed your eyes you’d have sworn both Ann and Nancy Wilson were in the house.
Opener Jesse Terry was the calm to Peacock’s storm. With a warm vocal style somewhere between James Taylor and Ryan Adams, the Nashville singer/songwriter revealed intimate stories behind songs plucked from his four albums spanning six years, as well as some eye-opening details about his experience as a runaway at age twelve. In recent years, Terry spent five years as a working songwriter in Nashville before returning to the studio and the road (including a stint on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu) to perform his own music. Highlights were “Noise” (from his upcoming EP The Calm & the Storm), “Empty Seat on a Plane” and “Let the Blue Skies Go to Your Head.”
If you ever happen to meet Terry in person, ask him about drinking Kava on Vanuatu. It’s a fascinating story.
Photo by Tom Garland