SARAH JAROSZ – ” World On The Ground “

Posted: December 6, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Folk singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz recently announced that her new album World On The Ground will arrive on June 5th via Rounder Records. Lead single “Johnny” landed on our best folk songs of the year (so far) list ahead of the next single “Orange and Blue.” Co-written with producer John Leventhal, “Orange and Blue” is a balance of longing to flee one’s small hometown and wanting to stay fully nestled in the comforts of home. Delivered over slow-tempo piano, Jarosz sings, “I think I found it now / And nothing else will do / a heart that burns to true / burning orange and blue.” Per a press release, the song was written in homage to her childhood home in Wimberley, Texas. World On The Ground is Jarosz’s fourth solo album, following 2016’s Undercurrent.

World on the Ground, though, is an act of looking inward, of keying into small details rather than grandiose ambitions. This is a smart idea. The album, Jarosz’s fifth, takes as its subject the space of central Texas, and the lives of the people there. (She hails from the Austin-orbit town of Wimberley, and currently resides in New York City.) In their unique ways, the ten songs that comprise World on the Ground feel like individual short stories, novelistic rather than journalistic in their detail. The perspective Jarosz takes in looking at her hometown the kind of view one gets of their home after spending many years away from it. Her mini-narratives reveal a deep love for her roots, a love that “burn[s] orange and blue” like a flame, as she puts it on second single “Orange and Blue”. These humane and sympathetic tales, like a good short story, paint a vivid picture from a small slice of life.

Looking at the career of Sarah Jarosz, one gets the impression that her world has never been bigger. Having broken into the Americana scene at a young age, Jarosz at 29 has four studio records under her belt. She’s toured the world both as a solo artist and as a member of the folk power trio I’m With Her, along with bandmates Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour) and Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still). She’s a regular guest on the national variety show Live From Here. Her last studio LP, 2016’s Undercurrent, earned two Grammy Awards, and she netted some additional hardware for I’m With Her’s 2019 tune “Call My Name”. It would be reasonable to think that, on the heels of such success, Jarosz might swing for the fences with her next album, especially given that in 2017 she was commissioned by the FreshGrass festival to write a lengthy composition that came to be called “The Blue Heron Suite”.

Sarah Jarosz’s “World on the Ground” is a heartfelt reminder that a period of flailing is temporary, often the period before a transition. The album’s title is derived from the track “Pay It No Mind”, where Jarosz takes on the vantage point of a fledgling inflight. As such, the album is a consideration of identity, a reflection of the past as an informant of the present while finding the artist squarely focused on the future. Jarosz tackles existentialism with a springy lens, she is clear-eyed and hopeful throughout. Her storytelling is compelling, often showing affinity with Gillian Welch or Mary Gauthier. As a multi-instrumentalist, she shifts between mandolins, multiple guitars, a claw-hammer banjo, and piano, all the while her vocals are at the forefront. She relies on folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, and bluegrass genres to centralize her roots but manages to define a musical space endowing Jarosz’s caliber. Listen closely, her drawl occasionally emphasizes her melodies while concretizing her position in Americana music.

In 2018, she, along with fellow roots musicians Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, released the album See You Around as the supergroup I’m With Her.

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