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I’M WITH HER —IN THE DARK (Rounder Records)


www.rounder-records.com

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.  

            Maurice Hope 

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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