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Q&A: Sarah Jarosz discusses new album ‘Polaroid Lovers,’ tour

Country/Americana singer Sarah Jarosz released her seventh studio album, “Polaroid Lovers,” on Jan. 26. She is on tour in support of the album and made a stop Sunday in Marietta at the People’s Bank Theater. Throughout her career, the Nashville-based singer has won four Grammy awards, in both her solo career and band I’m With Her, and has over 261 million streams and almost 850,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

The Post sat down with Jarosz to talk about her new album, life on the road, her musical inspirations and more:

The Post: If you could just give us an overview of your background, where you grew up, musical history, etc.

Jarosz: I was born in Austin, (Texas), and grew up in a little town called Wimberly. And I was just always interested in music for as long as I can remember. I started singing at a very, very young age. I grew up in a family of music lovers, and being in close proximity to Austin, which is such a great music city, it was really inspiring as a young musician. I just sang and started playing mandolin when I was around 10. Eventually, (I) started writing my own music in my early teens and started playing shows around the Austin area.

TP: You just released your seventh full-length album, "Polaroid Lovers,“ give us a background and tell us a bit about it.

Jarosz: I worked with an amazing producer on this album named Daniel Tashian. I think coming out of the pandemic, I was curious and excited to collaborate with some other writers, especially having just moved to Nashville. I wanted to just feel like a part of that community and reach out to some people who I really admire, Daniel, being one of them. I really focused heavily on the songwriting part of this album before even thinking about going into the studio. I didn't want to rush things, and I just wanted to feel like I had more than enough material and that I really believed in the songs. So, I spent the better part of 2022 just writing, writing, writing and eventually recorded this album with some amazing musicians. It's definitely a bit of a departure sonically, in some regards, really committing to sort of a fuller band sound in a way that I haven't before. The songs, they kind of deal with the "Polaroid Lovers" title of it. You could take it very literally as two lovers in a Polaroid photo, but I think it's also kind of dealing with the idea of capturing time and sort of capturing a moment in time and a photo. (It) almost sort of feels like capturing a moment of time and each song is a snapshot of a different place in time.

TP: You’ve been touring in support of the album, how has the tour been going so far? Being a week in, is there anything with it you’re looking forward to?

Jarosz: It's been an absolute blast. I think it's some of the most fun I've had performing ever — really. It's been amazing to me how this album hasn't been out for very long and people are already singing along to all these songs on the new record. Touring so soon after the album came out, I wasn't sure if people were going to be familiar with the new stuff and just wanting to hear the old stuff, but it's been so heartwarming to feel the love around this new album and the excitement around the new songs. And the musicians that I'm playing with are just absolutely incredible, so I'm just excited to keep doing it.

TP: Do you have a favorite song off the record, or a particular one that you really enjoy performing live?

Jarosz: I really genuinely love every song on this album right now. It just kind of changes from day to day. Right now, I think my favorite at the moment is "The Way It Is Now.” I just love that song and it means a lot to me, and it wasn't one of the singles that came out before the record. But I hope people can kind of focus on that song because I just love how it turned out. Playing live, it's been really fun to play "Dying Ember," which I wrote with my friend, Ruston Kelly. 

TP: After now seven albums, what does the future hold? 

Jarosz: I just want to keep creating. I think I never like to set boundaries around my creativity. So ultimately, whatever songs I write for the album are going to kind of dictate what the arrangement should be, and what the band should sound like. I would love to keep doing more of this. An album like "Blue Heron Suite,“ which is much more stripped down and acoustic, like that's a huge part of my musical identity as well, so I never want to lose that either. So I kind of honestly just like weaving in all the different parts of my musical self. If I could just keep doing that, that's my goal. I'm in a band with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, called I'm With Her and I’m also excited to make some more music with them soon.

TP: Along with your solo career, you’re also a member of the band I’m With Her. Sonically, that project is a bit darker, and more folksy sounding, compared to the country/Americana sound you’re most known for. How much influence from that sound do you bring into your solo career and vice versa? 

Jarosz: I think everything sort of influences everything in a way. I think it's nice to be able to have a different outlet to try different musical things, with even Sara, I feel like the focus is our harmonies and the way that our voices blend together, but also the way that our instruments blend. A fun challenge of that band is to figure out how each song can live just using the three of us and not a bigger band. So, it's almost like setting that limitation creates for some exciting musical moments. But then it's nice in my own work to be able to stretch out and try some different things that worked for my own songs that wouldn't work for I'm With Her, you know, so I don't prefer one or the other. I just like being able to do both.

TP: You've talked a lot about a lot of the musicians you've worked with, obviously, the musicians you perform on stage with every night, people who've helped you in writing the album, your bandmates in I'm With Her. Who are some of the artists or musicians that inspire you the most?

Jarosz: Paul Simon is always good up there at the top. James McMurtry is an incredible songwriter from Texas, who I grew up listening to and I just think he's one of the greatest living songwriters. And I just listened to him all the time. I mean, there's so much music. I could really go on and on. Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, there's a lot. Big Thief is a kind of a modern band that I listened to a ton.

TP: Following off that, who are some artists that you would love to work with?

Jarosz: I feel like Bonnie Raitt is maybe the most badass person of all time. I've met her and she's amazing, and I would love to make some music with her. I think that'd be really cool.

TP: In both your solo career and career with I’m With Her, you have a total of 12 Grammy nominations, four Grammy wins, five Americana Music Awards nominations and one win. Do you have hopes that "Polaroid Lovers" will add to that list?

Jarosz: Of course, I think when you put out an album, you kind of hope that those things will happen. But I definitely don't do it for that reason. I think when the awards happen, it's just like such a nice bonus. And mostly as a way for my whole team and the people that I work with to be able to celebrate the work that we did together, all the musicians who made the album. I think that's why those things are special because it's like a moment of recognition, and just a pause to be able to kind of say, “Look what we did, you know, and we did this together.” And so yes, it would be amazing, but also just the music on its own is the reward and getting to do this at all. 

TP: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Jarosz: Something that my parents talked about a lot is just taking life one day at a time, especially on tour, especially in the world, when life is hard. I'm very much a planner, and I like thinking about the future, and kind of what's coming next. But sometimes the best thing is to just think about the moment in front of you and just try to be present and really take it one day at a time.

TP: What advice would you give to a musician just starting out?

Jarosz: Just really work on honing your songs, honing your sound. And I think the biggest thing is to surround yourself with people who lift you up, that make you better. I think it's just in life in general, it's easy to get caught up with people that are kind of holding you back. And so I think surrounding yourself with musicians that make you play better; maybe they're better than you and they're lifting you to their level. I think that is so important. Just trying to find the right people to surround yourself with will go far and you'll be happier in the process because you get to hang out with people that you like.


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