Sarah Jarosz Talks Polaroid Lovers (out 1/26) and Returning to Philly (2/2 at WCL)

*While Sarah Jarosz’s show Friday night, February 2nd, at World Cafe Live may be sold out, she will be playing WXPN’s Free At Noon at World Cafe Live on...

*While Sarah Jarosz’s show Friday night, February 2nd, at World Cafe Live may be sold out, she will be playing WXPN’s Free At Noon at World Cafe Live on the afternoon of February 2nd, which you can attend for free, if you just register here.

Polaroid Lovers, the seventh studio LP from four-time GRAMMY winner Sarah Jarosz, drops this Friday, January 26th.  And the second night of the Polaroid Lovers Tour – which will have her at the Music Hall at World Café Live next Friday, February 2nd – just sold out!  While the tables all seemed to sell out quite quickly, the last tickets to go were the GA floor tickets, which, during a recent phone chat with Jarosz, the Americana singer/songwriter suggests might be the best way to experience her latest sounds: “Something with this record I’m kind of exploring, with a heavier emphasis on drums, lends itself to more standing rock clubs.”

In addition to this new sonic territory that she’s been exploring (“stronger electric guitar sounds and stronger drum sounds”), Sarah’s latest music and recent history has also seen the artist undergoing some additional changes.  Although, during the course of our chat, she explains that the changes might not be as profound as they seem, including her recent relocation from New York City to Nashville.  “I did just move here in 2020, but I’ve been working here for a long time.  I made my first four records here and have been coming here since I was 16,” she explains to me.

Upon arriving in Nashville, Jarosz found herself in writing sessions with people like Daniel Tashian, Ruston Kelly, and Natalie Hemby.  And while Jarosz isn’t particularly well known for her collaborations, she tells me that the co-writing she did for Polaroid Lovers was also not something that was exactly new to her: “It’s not to say that I haven’t co-written before, especially with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan in I’m With Her, but I think I embraced it in a new way with this record…  I was hesitant to co-write when I was younger and still finding my musical voice, but now I’m more confident that my voice wouldn’t get lost in a co-write with another writer.”

Daniel Tashian – songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist known for his work with PHILTHY phavorites Tenille Townes, Lissie, and Kacey Musgraves – even went on to produce Polaroid Lovers, which Jarosz admits wasn’t initially the plan: “Daniel is incredible and such a creative, open-hearted person.  Originally, when I reached out to him, it was just on a writing front.  I wasn’t thinking of asking him to produce.”  But she says, as a producer, he brought a new energy and new process to the making of the album: “It was tracked in about eight days.  It was the fastest I’ve ever tracked a record.”  She tells me that he also assembled the band on the record, which includes guitarist Rob McNelley (Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood), Tom Bukovac (Tom Petty, Vince Gill) on guitar and organ, Jarosz’s husband- bassist Jeff Picker (Nickel Creek), and drummer Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams).

Polaroid Lovers has already produced four singles, which Jarosz says have been getting very warm reactions from fans: “I’ve just been so pleased and happy with how people have been receiving these songs, even with some different sounds on this record, especially ‘Jealous Moon,’ the first single, which is quite different from what I’ve done in the past.”  Each single also has its own music video, which Jarosz says she’s also been more excited about recently: “I’ve been so stoked that we’ve gotten to make a video for every song…  Often times, I don’t think much about the visuals until the music’s out.  I let the songs lead the way, and afterwards images will emerge, but I’ve been doing more thinking about the visuals with this record.”  She tells me that some of the recent imagery has been inspired by Polaroids themselves (most notably the video for “When The Lights Go Out”), but that she also had an exceptional amount of fun with the video for “Columbus & 89th,” which was actually shot on her friend’s phone: “After moving from New York to Nashville, I came back and, for ‘Columbus & 89th,’ we filmed in my old neighborhood, on the Upper West Side.  My friend came along and shot it on her iPhone!”

The album comes courtesy of Rounder Records, home to our phriends Bella White, Samantha Fish, and Caroline Spence, in addition Jarosz’s band, I’m With Her.  And while Polaroid Lovers is officially Jarosz’s third LP on the legendary label, she explains that it’s more or less the same group of people she’s been with since the beginning: “Initially, I was with Sugar Hill Records, which ultimately got absorbed by Rounder, so I’ve been with the same team since I signed my contract when I was 16, especially Gary Paczosa.  It’s great to have people that you’ve been with all along.  What I love most about them is that they’ve never put up walls to my creativity.”

As our chat winds down, Jarosz mentions that there will be more music with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan for I’m With Her in the works later this year, but she says that Polaroid Lovers is currently what’s on her mind: “This record and this tour is at the forefront…  This record has actually been recorded for a year now, so I’ve been patiently – or not so patiently [laughs] – waiting for this record to drop.”  She also acknowledges that the tour itself is massive, in part because touring’s been particularly difficult in recent years: “It’s a lot!  It’s almost 50 dates…  My last two records came out when things were still pretty locked down.”

While Jarosz admits that the setlists on the Polaroid Lovers Tour are going to be heavy on the new album, she tells me that she’s been reaching out to fans on Instagram to hear what songs from her back catalogue they may want to hear.  She also says that she’s thrilled to be returning to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (Her most recent area show was in Ardmore.): “I’m excited for Philly!  It’s been a while.”  However, she confesses that for the second show on the tour, she and her band may still be figuring things out: “We’re still gonna be finding our groove at that point [laughs].”

And as happy as we are to have Sarah Jarosz back in town (and be only the second audience to hear a number of tracks from Polaroid Lovers live), I tell her that we’re also quite excited about our good phriends in phenomenal Boston indie folk duo The Ballroom Thieves, who will be opening the first month of the tour and playing their biggest Philadelphia show ever (I think?)  While she tells me that she’s not super familiar with them just yet, she’s super excited to get familiar in the very near future: “I’m kind of new to them, if I’m being honest, but I’ve heard some snippets from them and kind of have been blown away…  I’ve had a lot of people telling me great things, like what you said!”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.