Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down – Sugar Hill Records

by | May 17, 2011 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down – Sugar Hill Records SUG-CD-4062, 39:19 *****:

“Follow Me Down” is the second effort from Sarah Jarosz. It closely follows the structure and feeling of her first recording, “Song Up In Her Head,” but deepens and intensifies the emotions behind the music. This time around, Jarosz has made a powerful and emotionally rich experience. The talented multi-instrumentalist, singer, and composer is stretching her wings and showing us a glimpse of what is to come.

Much like her first CD, “Follow Me Down” is mostly made up of songs composed by Jarosz with two notable and interesting exceptions. This time instead of covers of Tom Waits and The Decemberists, she tackles the Bob Dylan tune, “Ring Them Bells” and Radiohead’s “The Tourist.” The rest of the tracks are in turns vibrant and haunting, seductive and exciting. One of my favorites is her adaption of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “Annabelle Lee.” It is beautiful and poignant.

The musicians backing her up on this CD are the best of the best in bluegrass, Americana, and contemporary acoustic music. A few of these are Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Alex Hargreaves. Jarosz shows her virtuosic chops on the mandolin, octave mandolin, and clawhammer banjo. Perhaps her best instrument is her voice. It is focused, pure, and nuanced. The arrangements are impeccable and tasteful, and show off the music and the players to their best advantage.

Though coming from a bluegrass beginning, Jarosz is not content to remain there. The music she creates borrows elements of bluegrass, folk, Americana, pop, and rock. Her music is not out of place with The Decemberists or Mumford & Sons. One of her best assets is her level of musical taste. She knows what is good and she knows how to make it. “Follow Me Down” is a rich and evocative recording and is sure to be one of the best CDs of 2011.

Run Away; Come Around; Annabelle Lee; Ring them Bells; My Muse; Floating in the Balance; Old Smitty; The Tourist; Here Nor There; Gypsy; Peace

— Hermon Joyner

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