Sarah Jarosz

Follow Me Down

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You can anticipate objections to Sarah Jarosz's sophomore effort from a couple of different directions: those who saw her as someone who would make old-time country music attractive to the Twitter generation may feel that she's abandoned her sacred duty; others may suspect her of suffering from Elvis Costello Syndrome (which causes spoon-bendingly talented musicians to get tired of doing what their talents have made easy for them and to begin pushing the boundaries of their gifts, with sometimes embarrassing results). Neither objection would be correct. First of all, despite the fact that she plays clawhammer banjo and mandolin and is fluent in early-country vernacular, Jarosz's music has always been much more complicated than that; listen past the accent and the frailing on her debut album and you'll hear about eight or ten different musical genres jostling against each other. Second of all, on Follow Me Down, the drum-powered groove of "Come Around" and the newgrass jazziness of "Old Smitty" and the Radiohead cover are not so much departures from what she's done in the past as they are logical next steps. This isn't to say that everything succeeds perfectly; where "Gypsy" is slow and gorgeous and rocks like a tree swing on a summer evening, her version of "The Tourist" merely drags; where "My Muse" is lushly beautiful, "Come Around" is intense but not terribly tuneful. But virtually everything else comes perilously close to perfection, and each song sounds different from all the others. Jarosz's talent is wondrous and in no way normal, and her developing musical maturity continues to be a wonder to watch.

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