Release Date: Jun 16, 2009
Record label: Sugar Hill
Delightful debut from a new blade of bluegrass Eighteen-year-old bluegrass whiz Sarah Jarosz will have just graduated from high school when her first album is released this summer, but her age is nearly beside the point.Brennan's “Come on up to the House” and The Decemberists' “Shankhill Butchers”—attest to her skill as much as her taste. But the songs Jarosz wrote herself more pull their own weight. The eleven originals bubble with questions, toe-tapping impatience and a dreamy yearning, and they're strung through with twinge of poignancy that's completely refreshing.
Seventeen years old and already turning the heads of critics, producers, and session musicians alike, Sarah Jarosz is not only a jaw-dropping talent but a multidimensional one, as well. Her voice is clear and sweet, her mandolin playing has been good enough for long enough that she has memories of jamming on-stage with David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs at age twelve, and she plays guitar and clawhammer banjo as well. Oh, and she also writes songs -- really, really good ones.
The most obvious angle at which to approach the debut of bluegrass artist Sarah Jarosz is her age, which is understandable: Song Up In Her Head was recorded when she was 17 (she turned 18 shortly before the album’s release date). That fact attracts a certain amount of interest, with words like prodigy and wunderkind getting tossed around at whim. But let’s address it quickly, and move on, as any illusions of awkward or precocious youth should be scrubbed away by the album’s first song.
For Wimberley's Sarah Jarosz, Song Up in Her Head is the calling card of triple-threat stardom: a voice of maturity at 17, instrumentalist of precision, and a songwriter of uncommon wisdom in the mold of Dolly Parton by way of Lucinda Williams. Because she's dazzled audiences on the bluegrass and folk circuit since she was 12, Jarosz's brilliant debut is neither fluke nor surprise. Like Austinite Ariel Abshire's Exclamation Love last year, much of Jarosz's appeal is youth, but that's grounded so deeply in talent that listening to her is a sweet promise for the future.