DREAM COUNTRY - sarah darling
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 10th February, 2017
Genre: Country, Americana, Jazz, Pop and Singer-Songwriter
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Record Label: Be Darling Records (Independent)
Already one of my favourite new albums this year is the wonderful and cinematic 'Dream Country'. It was crowdfunded via Kickstarter earlier this year and just shows the superb quality of music available when very talented artists and musicians have full creative control. Already a very well-known name in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee singer-songwriter Sarah Darling has years of experience as a songwriter and a performer behind her. Since moving to Nashville when she was 19, Sarah’s long list of achievements are very impressive. She has supported big stadium artists such as Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill and Tim Mcgraw, accumulated over a million downloads and performed at the legendary Grand Ole Opry over 80 times. With US radio successes under her belt, including hit singles ‘Home to Me,’ and ‘Little Umbrellas’ this Iowa native has solidified her place as one of Country music’s breakout performers and elite vocalists. Sarah first came to the public's attention in 2003 after becoming a top three finalist in the TV show 'The Entertainer' hosted by Wayne Newton. Her debut album 'Every Monday Morning' was released in 2009 followed up by her highly acclaimed second album 'Angels & Devils' in 2011. Her new self released third album 'Dream Country' is a beautiful written and arranged piece of 'musical magic' showcasing Sarah's wonderfully pure vocals. This is definitely an album to have on your Christmas list....it's stunning!
'Dream Country' takes the listener on a journey through aspirational, cinematic songs about stars, romance and dreams in Sarah's unique style, a sublime fusion of Country, Americana, Jazz and Pop. Following a long term record deal, this album was chance for Sarah to make a record that showcases where she is artistically, professionally and personally, without any of the restraints that can come with a major record deal. “I’m so grateful for the time I spent signed to a label. Over the years I wrote so many songs, some of which the world has never got to hear. That’s part of it and it can be creatively stifling,” explains Sarah, “this has been an opportunity to make a record with everything I’ve ever imagined from top to bottom”.
"During the making of this project, I experienced so many beautiful moments. There was the time I got emotional in the studio hearing string parts being arranged on "Halley's Comet" at Ocean Way studios. Still, every time I hear the strings come in on the recording I get goosebumps. I hope you feel the same way! I think the greatest was truly connecting with the music. All of the songs chosen are from my heart and soul. There is something to be said about having the opportunity to have creative freedom. That's where the magic happens, when it's 100 percent you. I hope everyone in their life has that chance at whatever they do."
"The common theme is light. I believe my gift of music is to be a light in the darkness. Also to give a voice to the dreamer. I'm a girl who grew up in the wide open spaces of Iowa dreaming under the stars. Now you get to experience the things that have meant so much to me. Once you listen through you will notice the stars make quite an appearance. To me, that's my heavenly view. They have inspired me my entire life."
"What on earth is dream country? It's my world and my version of country. It's a love letter to Wyoming, because God really broke the mold when he created such a beautiful place. It's the cobblestone streets of Montmartre. It's a world I love writing about and escaping to. The producer on the album is Larissa Maestro. She is an incredible cellist and string arranger. That's her real last name too. She is one of the most talented human beings I've ever met. My good friend Cheyenne Medders brought Larissa to my life and I'm grateful. The moment we played together it was magic. I am grateful to be a writer on 7 of the 9 tracks. The best part is, these songs were all co written with my best friends. People I love and believe in. Same goes for the musicians selected to record. They are were all handpicked. I know you will hear the passion in the recordings."
With touches of early Madonna the album begins with the beautiful and ethereal piano led 'Wandering Star'. This really showcases Sarah's vocals. Back firmly in Country music territory 'Where Cowboys Ride' paints a wonderful picture and reminisces on live on the range, of times long since gone . 'Now they're gone and they are just ghosts'.
Written about her husband is the beautiful love song 'Anchor'. 'I don't know where I'd would be, maybe shipwrecked out at sea....in a world that's always spinning me......you're my anchor'. The pace picks up for the rocky, uptempo and richly layered 'Tell That Devil'. It's full of distorted electric guitar, driving rhythm and organ backing. "I've told that Devil to take you back!". I think Sarah is at her very best when her vocals are the focal point and with it's lovely string arrangement 'Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want' is a case in point.
The dreamy 'Starry Eyes' is a perfect piece of country pop. It almost has a Fleetwood Mac feel. 'Monmarte' co-written with the lovely and very talented Jenn Bostic is a song about Sarah's honeymoon in Paris, one of her favourite cities. Again another sublime string arrangement. Beautifully retro and classic, it could easily be on a movie soundtrack.
There is some wonderful music on this album and the very personal 'Halley's Comet' is another great example. Hopefully one the lead singles of the album when it is released next year. Rich and textured with Sarah's soaring vocals.
Sexy, sultry and well cheeky is how we describe the retro jazz number 'You Take Me All The Way'. It's Nora Jones meets Jessica Rabbit. Returning to one of golden ages of music. Beautifully written and arranged....an instant classic. One of our favourites.
The album closes with a wonderful bonus track 'Stargazer', another song with an almost 'dream-like' and ethereal quality. Superb string arrangements and gentle almost music box electric guitar. Stunning.
“A sophisticated songwriter with a crisp and powerful voice...destined for stardom” (New York Times)