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Since signing to Sugar Hill Records at age 16, Sarah Jarosz has barely stopped to catch her breath, even as she leaves audiences and critics alike breathless. Rolling Stone has compared her to Gillian Welch; Mojo labeled her a “newgrass prodigy” for her skills on banjo, guitar and mandolin; and the normally reserved New York Times hailed her as “one of acoustic music’s finest talents,” with songwriting chops to match her instrumental prowess.
Exciting as that all may sound, that was before. For with her new album ‘Build Me Up From Bones’, Sarah Jarosz, now 22, has graduated in every sense of the word. The album came to fruition as she finished college at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and Bones incorporates the many lessons she learned there as she delved into other artistic realms.
Ask the Austin, Texas native how she feels about the disc, and her reply is decisive: “It’s the truest representation of my music at this point. I wanted to create a rollercoaster of different sounds, emotions and feelings, and not one even line. It has rocking numbers, and it also features the trio I play with—it incorporates those guys more. It feels true to me: unique and new.”
She adds: “I feel like I’ve grown as a person, especially in these last few years. I latched onto music as a child and it became my main way of expressing myself. But through college I got into other creative outlets: art, painting and poetry. It helped me to come back to music in a deeper way, to follow deeper trails and meanings and feelings.”
Yet it’s clear that what Jarosz carried in her head and nurtured in her heart brandished plenty of magic to begin with. In the conservatory setting of her final college days, she assailed the dual challenge of crafting new songs and cramming for exams. Instead of bowing to the pressure, she flowed with it, harnessed it, and passed with flying colors … leading a musical graduation day of a distinct and rare kind.