thu 25/07/2024

Album: Sarah Jarosz - Polaroid Lovers | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Sarah Jarosz - Polaroid Lovers

Album: Sarah Jarosz - Polaroid Lovers

The songs are there if the listener can handle the 'adult contemporary' vibe

All I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the grey door

Critically acclaimed in the US, singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz has won four Grammies during the course of her career. Born in Texas, spending most of her adult life in New York, her seventh album was created in her new hometown of Nashville, with an all-star cast of country-flavoured session musicians and producer Daniel Tashian.

She moved to Nashville to be with her future husband, and some of the songs reflect this, but musically Jarosz holds the line with what came before, highly polished, reflective folk-Americana.

It’s a matter of taste as to whether listeners find her style of production elegantly understated or buffed blandly to a gloss. I struggle with it. I’m not a fan of American middle-of-the-road FM radio “adult contemporary”. Its sheen undermines the emotional impact. Polaroid Lovers rides a fine line. Numbers such as the Eagles-ish “Runaway Train” and soft-rock opener “Jealous Moon” go way too far into territory that’s tepid and sapless, but, as the album moves along, Sarosz’s way with words and sombre songwriting slowly wins out. Just.

When she’s at her best, Sarosz inhabits territory somewhere between Emmylou Harris and Suzanne Vega. Her elegiac paean to New York, “Columbus & 89th”, is a case in point, twinkling, sweet and longing (“I recall staying out with you ‘til sunrise, hit the Hudson, without a thought to what had passed or what was coming”), and the latter half of the album is full of quiet potency. These include dreamy Mexican-tinted closer “Mezcal and Lime”, the shuffling “Days Can Turn Around”, and incongruously effervescent “Take the High Road”.

Sarosz’s lyrics are strong, her voice a mournful, flighty instrument, her harmonies lush, and the guitar work throughout, especially steel, is a match. I’d love to hear a Jarosz album that’s raw and earthy, but, in lieu of that, if the the listener can hear past the slickness, Polaroid Lovers contains enough to commend it.

 Below: watch the video for "Columbus & 89th" by Sarah Jarosz

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