Described by The New York Times as "one of acoustic music's most promising young talents: a singer-songwriter and mandolin and banjo prodigy with the taste and poise to strike that rare balance of commercial and critical success," Sarah Jarosz was born to be a musician –to be exact, in Austin, Texas in 1991. Jarosz left no doubt about what she’d be doing in thefuture. At 12-years-old she was jamming onstage on themandolin with the likes of David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs.But she isn’t playing bluegrass; instead, she’s a fine and graceful songwriter with a sweet, timeless voice that gives her songs and well-chosen covers tremendous resonance that hasput her at the fore of a new Americana sound.
Viewed by many as a next-generation version of Gillian Welch, Jarosz signed a deal with Sugar Hill Records when she was just 16. A debut album, Song Up in Her Head, appearedon the label in 2009 and quickly garnered tremendous critical acclaim. That same year, Jarosz began work on a major at the New England Conservatory of Music, and proved once again that she was no garden-variety musician.
"I really like that word," Sarah Jarosz says of the title of Undercurrent, her fourth Sugar Hill album. "If you look up the definition, it's 'an underlying feeling or influence' or 'a flow of water moving below the surface.' To me, that really encompasses the feeling behind this record." That evocative imagery is appropriate for Undercurrent, whose 11 original songs seem to reveal new lyrical depth and sonic nuance with every listen. Although it's her fourth album, Undercurrent is a milestone for Jarosz in more ways than one. It's her first release since graduating with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, and her first since relocating to New York City.
"This is the first record I've made since being out on my own and experiencing a lot of changes, and I think that that's reflected in the songs," Jarosz explains. "It's also the first record I've ever made that feels to me like a complete thought, with a beginning, a middle and an ending. It's also the first time I've made an album that doesn't have any covers on it. I wanted it to feel like the rollercoaster ride that is life, so I put a lot of thought into sequencing the songs. It was important for me to start with light, and then go through darker times, and stubbornness and strength and weakness, and then end up on a hopeful note."