REVIEW: Sarah Jarosz – Live At Firth Hall, Sheffield

Arriving at Firth Hall at the university of Sheffield on Friday I was blown away with the venue. A stunning old building that was just perfect for evening ahead. The large, stone building presented us with dynamic acoustics from the voices and instruments to follow.

We were entertained by Dietrich Strause as the opener. He played several songs from his recent album ‘How Cruel That Hunger Binds’, released earlier this year. The album is produced by Ray Lamontagne and Josh Ritter. Having recently reviewed Josh Ritter in the states I was excited to hear Dietrich. Originating from Boston, his songs are stories and poetry full of meaning and thoughts of a man way beyond his years. We could all relate to just a little of each of his clearly delivered songs. Dietrich is one to watch out for. He gained many new admirers and fans and humbly took the rapturous applause. Give him a listen.

Sarah Jarosz is a young lady that I have been following for a while and she arrived on stage with a wealth of instruments, ably supported by Jed Hughes on acoustic and electric guitar and, the amazing Geoff Picker on double bass. He supported every track and each one was all the better for that wonderful deep melodic sound.

Sarah has an amazing voice. Somewhat folk, country and Americana roots – a contemporary blend of all those sounds. She hails from Texas, bases herself in New York with occasional visits to Nashville and her sound is all of the above. She played the brilliant track ‘Comin’ Undone’, written with the talented Parker Millsap, and the superb track ‘House of Mercy’, both from her fourth album ‘Undercurrent’ released this year. Jed Hughes gave us his rendition of ‘Working’ Man Blues’ by Merle Haggard. Sarah’s fourth album is full of longing and looking back with optimism. It was a joy to listen to her sing and showcase her immense musical ability.

She is a multi instrumentalist as well as a gifted and expressive vocalist. Firth Hall was a fitting venue to hear her play. The music from her mandolin, banjo and guitars takes us to an intersection of many genres. Having been nominated for a Grammy for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Song, I find it difficult to believe that she did not win. But she has left herself plenty of space to grow and give us more of her eclectic sound.

Sarah returns to the UK in January. Be sure to go and see her.

Writer: Jayne Scoffin