Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
Since her debut album, Song Up in Her Head, in 2009, Sarah Jarosz has been making a huge impact on bluegrass and Americana music. Now, her sophomore effort is continuing in the same vein, creating a fresh and independent sound expanding the bluegrass audience and garnering Jarosz even more attention.
Recorded when she was 19 and co-produced by Gary Paczosa, Jarosz uses her compelling voice and multi-instrumental talents to combine indie vocals and arrangements with classic bluegrass instrumentation. And, now, after establishing herself as an impressive force with Song Up in Her Head, Jarosz was able to call upon some of the best musicians country, bluegrass and Americana have to offer — Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Edgar Myers, Viktor Krauss, Darrell Scott, Chris Thile and Dan Tyminski — while Jarosz picked up the mandolin, banjo and guitar to create this extraodrinary album.
Largely, Jarosz’s original material with the exception of a few standout covers like her splendid version of Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” featuring vocals from Vince Gill, a melancholic lingering in Radiohead’s “The Tourist” aided by the Punch Brothers, and a haunting musical rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” with Dan Tyminski lending counter vocals. The album starts off hauntingly romantic as well with Jarosz’s weightless vocals surrounded by eerie instrumentation and subtle backing from Shawn Colvin. The single, “Come Around,” exhibits some expertly fast-picking in a trendy minor-key arrangement, while “My Muse” bewitches listeners with Jarosz’s heavenly voice and the floating instrumentation from her frequent collaborators, Alex Hargreaves and Nathaniel Smith. Then, an Appalachian influence can be heard in the more traditional “Here Nor There” enhanced by Jerry Douglas’ deft dobro. Quietly, Jarosz closes Follow Me Down with the calm and soothing meditation, “Peace,” which is perfect listening for a warm summer night and fitting for a sophisticated and completely intoxicating album that blends tradition with trends.
— April D. Wolfe @ Common Folk Music