Sara Jarosz exploded onto the bluegrass and Americana scene in 2009 with her debut LP. Since then she’s been busy getting nominated for Grammys and getting making the rounds between NPR and other independent syndicates. But now she’s back with her second full length LP Follow Me Down.
The thing that leaps out of the stereo immediately is the almost uncanny resemblance that Jarosz’s voice has to Gillian Welch’s. That alone is enough to give her cred in certain country music circles. The album is a pretty standard Alt Country album. The fiddles could be pulled from a Nickel Creek record and if the banjo playing sounds familiar it’s because it’s Bela Flek. Yep, this 21 year old has already gotten Bela Flek. The thing that I personally like about bluegrass is storytelling that the lyricism portrays. There are some really beautiful stories on this album with “My Muse” and “Annabelle Lee.” They can also be sad and almost reminiscent on “Gypsy.”
The best song on the album though without a doubt is the cover of Radiohead’s “The Tourist.” The contrast of Jarosz’s smoky voice adds something to the song that Thom Yorke didn’t achieve. Her voice really adds to the ora of misery that the original has. Of course since it’s a bluegrass cover, all the string arrangements that the original have are much more colorful and have an element of twang to them that gives this version of the song its own personality.
This is a very good introduction to people who might have missed Jarsoz’s first album. It’s a record bluegrass and country fans will love, but it is still accessible for people who aren’t too familiar with the genre. I would remember Jarosz’s name, there may be a few more Grammy nods in her future.