On the Edge: Sarah Jarosz

photo by Scott Simontacchi/All Eyes Media

Here’s something amazing: Newly released Build Me Up From Bones is actually the third studio album from 22-year-old singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz.

The musical virtuoso (she’s a wicked mandolin, banjo and guitar player) released her debut album, Song Up in Her Head, when she was only 16. What’s more, she just graduated college from the New England Conservatory in May and moved to New York for her next chapter. The Texas native credits her success to a very early start and hard work.

“My parents were big music lovers in general so they would always take me out to see live music in Austin and there would always be music playing around the house,” says Sarah, who was a mandolin wiz by the time she was 10. Her playing—intricate and highly melodic—is a major presence on the largely acoustic Build Me Up From Bones, but never overshadows her well-crafted songs, like the folky “Fuel the Fire” or the airy title track. She also worked with ace songwriters like Darrell Scott and Jedd Hughes, with whom she wrote the swooning “Over the Edge.”

Sarah also added a couple covers to the collection—a minimalist take on Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” and “The Book of Right On” by oddball artist Joanna Newsom. Sarah had been playing the quirky tune live before recording it. “I thought it would be a nice complement to the rest of the stuff on the record,” she explains. “I try to decide what song will bring something that isn’t already there.”

The experience of recording while she was still in school had its own impact on Sarah’s writing. “It really took the full four years for it to all sink in and really start affecting me on a deeper level,” she explains. “Musically, getting out of my comfort zone, which is why I wanted to go to school in the first place.” 

As she prepares for her tour, Sarah now feels a sense of relief to be done with school. “I’m not gonna lie, there are times when it was incredibly challenging balancing it all,” she admits. “I’m on the other end of it now. But I feel incredibly thankful that I was able to have that experience. Even though that was really challenging, here I am, and I’m done with school and the record’s finished so it feels really worth it to have worked that hard.”

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