Sarah Jarosz is a musical triple threat… gifted songwriter, strong warm alto vocalist and accomplished string multi-instrumentalist (acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin and octave mandolin). She began her musical career as a child and has been celebrated ever since. It was clear that she was a prodigy, and was taken under the wing of bluegrass luminaries such as Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott as the herald of a new generation.
Growing up in Wimberley, Texas, she began singing in early childhood. Receiving a mandolin for Christmas when she was nine years old, she worked tirelessly to master the instrument, and learned to play guitar and clawhammer banjo along the way. When she was 11, she performed at her first bluegrass festival; over the next few years, she gained an impressive reputation as a young phenom on the festival circuit, absorbing a world of traditional influences while honing her own highly original songwriting sensibility.
Jarosz already has three full albums of increasingly experimental folk and bluegrass music under her belt. Undercurrent is Jarosz’s first album since her graduation from the New England Conservatory of Music, and it plays like a declaration of independence. This is the first of her records to feature entirely original songwriting (“House of Mercy” was co-written with Jedd Hughes), and she newly favors the guitar throughout. The disc also contains several collaborations with a variety of talents, including Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins and Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan (with whom Jarosz has performed as part of the trio I’m With Her), the Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan, and Oklahoma’s Parker Milsap.
“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.”