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I’m With Her is a trio made up of multi-instrumentalist Sara Jarosz (mandolin,banjo), Sara Watkins (one of the founding members of Nickel Creek plays ukulele and fiddle) and Aoife O’Donovan (a founder member of Crooked Still performs piano and synthesiser). The girls combine superbly as seamless harmony vocals join the lead, that’s shared (as are the songwriting credits apart from Gillian Welch’s “Hundred Miles”) on this much anticipate project from the girls.Recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Bath (UK) they share production duties with Ethan Johns and recorded the bulk of the record live.
All as stated have successful careers going elsewhere; and undoubtedly proved themselves. In The Dark is more low key and artistically driven than anticipated; opening track “See You Around” sets the tempo, and with it followed by the mandolin and fiddle etched harmony vocal loaded “Game To Lose” the mood becomes darker still. As the music gets down and dirty so to speak.
“Ain’t That Fine” holds strong throughout as the girls keep it tight and gritty, plus with it possessing dobro there is a freer feel to the music (pure Americana as folk, country, bluegrass etc are utilised). Next up you have the spare delicate and wistful “Pangaea”, plus pleasing instrumental “Waitsfield".
While I wasn’t totally sure what to expect I did expect a few more fireworks! “I-89” threatens to lift the tempo and place a little more urgency into the record, but sadly it is more of the same. Nice though the harmonies are there is a need for one of them to stand up and deliver lead vocals to make up the listener prick up their ears, same could be said for wistful ballad “Ryland (Under The Appletree)”. But all is not lost. For they do serve up a genuine treat on rustic steeped, banjo led “Overland”, and with “Crescent City” offering a stronger emotional feel much good is present. It might have taken a little while but the girls finally got to open up and entertain. So much so i can't wait to hear them perform live, and possibly another record!
As for Welch’s “Hundred Miles”(and yet to be covered) the track opens a cappella fashion as the girls’ breathy tones speak of how it is a hundred miles to get back to you and hundred years and, maybe two. Dashed with organ, fiddle and banjo the wistful affair is loaded in grace, and rare beauty as they are found at their best in more ways than one.
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