FolkWorld #58 11/2015
© Editorial by Sarah McQuaid

The F Word

Sarah McQuaid

Artist Video Sarah McQuaid @ FW:
FW#36, #38, #42,
#48, #48, #55, #56

I’m a child of the vinyl era. When I recently acquired a turntable and started playing records again, I was struck not so much by the difference in sound as by the level of involvement required on the part of the listener: the mere fact of having to get up and flip the album over halfway through brought me back to a time when I actually sat and LISTENED to records, as opposed to having them on in the background.

At around the same time as I got that turntable, my fourth solo album “Walking Into White” was being mastered, prompting vehement discussions about the sequence of tracks. At the end of it, we had what I felt was the most coherent collection of songs I’d ever recorded: this wasn’t just a bunch of songs grouped arbitrarily together, it was a cycle, a story of sorts.

But would anyone hear that story? So often these days, a newly purchased CD gets imported straight into iTunes and onto random shuffle.

I decided to ensure that it would be heard in its intended order at least once by people who came to this year’s shows: I’d simply perform the entire album live, track for track, as the first half of each concert. I’ve just returned from an eight-week, 39-gig US tour during which I did exactly that, and the response was amazing: audiences seemed to really respond emotionally, and my CD sales took a massive leap.

I’ll be doing the same thing on my four-week UK tour in November. It’s been a real eye-opener, and it’s changed the way I listen to albums, too. No more shuffling!

Sarah McQuaid

Sarah McQuaid: Walking into White

Sarah McQuaid’s voice has been likened to malt whiskey, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine” (Minor 7th). Her new album Walking Into White (2015) is her most honest and adventurous work to date, with a depth and texture of soundscape that are reflected in her beautifully crafted live shows. A captivating performer, she seduces her audience with cheeky banter and stories from the road, as well as with stunning musicianship; in her hands, the guitar becomes much more than merely an accompanying instrument.

Born in Spain, raised in Chicago and now living in rural England, Sarah refuses to be pigeonholed, segueing easily from one of her emotive originals into a 1930s Cuban jazz number, a 16th century lute piece or an unexpected contemporary cover. Like its predecessors, her fourth solo CD has drawn international critical acclaim: The Musician (UK) called it “A work that grows with each listen,” while Germany’s Folker hailed it as “Ein mutiges Album mit einem potenziellen Pophit” (A courageous album that includes a potential pop hit). “Sending out a trembling resonance, this is a collection of songs that feel their way into your being,” wrote FolkWords (UK), where it prevailed over stiff competition to be selected as Album of the Month.

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