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Review: Sarah Jarosz, Follow Me Down

Sarah Jarosz
Follow Me Down
[Sugar Hill Records (2011)]

There’s an interesting raw-yet-pure quality to 20-year-old Sarah Jarosz’ voice on her second release Follow Me Down. Sweet but mindful, twangy yet angelic (check out her rendition of Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” with Vince Gill providing his usual exquisite harmony), it is beyond her years and adaptable to genres from folk to alternative rock.

Her songwriting talent is particularly brilliant and timeless. “Annabelle Lee,” adapted from the Poe poem, is so traditional sounding, while “Here Nor There,” could easily have been an attention-getting cut on the The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, as was “Norwegian Wood.” “My Muse” is a lovely reflective contemporary piece.

The company that Jarosz keeps here is pretty impressive. In addition to Gill, there’s Bela Fleck contributing steadily ethereal banjo to “Come Around” and Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, Punch Brothers, Shawn Colvin, Edgar Meyer, Darrell Scott, Dan Tyminski, and Viktor Krauss also aptly assisting.

If Jarosz is doing all this at her tender age (and I haven’t even touched upon her instrumental talent on mandolin, octave mandolin, clawhammer banjo, and guitars), I’d say there’s a lot to look forward to for the next 20 years.

—Ellen Geisel (Ballston Lake, NY)

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