On a lovely summery evening for the last night of the historic Cambridge Folk Festival, the divine American country artist, Sarah Darling, sat down to chat with me before her set about finding her voice, her latest album and what lies ahead for her.
The Start Of Things For Sarah Darling
What brought you to country music?
Oh goodness, I moved to Nashville fifteen years, I can’t believe I am admitting that! I moved to Nashville after I visited on a holiday with my family. Just walking down this street I said to my family, ‘I am moving here’ and so I just did. Before I moved to Nashville, I was playing small shows back home in Iowa where I grew up, just playing covers you know, Alison Krauss and The Dixie Chicks.
So, when I got to Nashville I got wrapped up into this really amazing songwriter community that took me under their wings. Back then, I was dating this songwriter as well, although it didn’t work out and he broke my heart but the whole experience was like this fuel that just gave me wings. I had started writing these songs when I moved to Nashville and I learned really quickly that you can play and write music that is truly you and be an actual artist. I learned that about halfway through my journey and I think it was like one of those pivotal moments in my life of just creating music that is truly me.
Finding Her Voice
Was there a clear path to finding your voice or were there some detours?
There were some major detours on that road actually. I was signed to a record label in Nashville, a country one, and I remember doing really commercial country music. I loved it and toured all over the country and had a great time. It was four years ago though, I had this moment in my life, where I almost wasn’t happy or satisfied with my life musically and I decided to break away from my record label which was quite risky at that time.
Then, I wrote an album called Dream Country and that came out about three years ago. That album is why I am here in the UK. It was the album that I did for me. It wasn’t actually an industry album I just said, ‘I am going to do this. There is something about this record that I need to do. I wanted to do it so that I know that I did everything that I wanted to do.’ All of the sudden then, it just connected and in a whole new place. It was so beautiful when music does that you know?
It was so me and my whole team that I have here in the UK said the same. They all said that the album was so me and they couldn’t imagine me in any other way. I really feel that was when I found my voice. Throughout this whole time, it takes that much time to find your way. I appreciate it so much more because of that journey.
Who did you find inspiration from now, are there artists that are still feeding you so to speak, your creativity in a way that gets you going?
Yes, I still find that with artists. There is such joy of going on Spotify and just finding people that you have never heard of that moves you. I definitely still love Alison Krauss and hearing her live as well. I love the new Kacey Musgraves album. It really inspires me from a female perspective, it’s just different. It’s not your normal country album. I am a big fan of the Wandering Hearts too and they have become good friends of mine now as well.
Sarah Darling’s Latest Album
How did Wonderland come about?
With Wonderland, because I had been spending so much time in the UK, as my husband is British, I just said, ‘What if I made a country album in England?’ Which is so not the norm! I came over last summer and for the entire summer, I just wrote. I recorded the album around Thanksgiving, so late November. That meant I spent Thanksgiving in London and I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even get pumpkin pie but I made my album!’
Subsequently, it was totally worth it, it was a wonderland, and that is where the title came from. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out but it has all these really interesting vibes and elements running through it. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do that album in Nashville. That is the fun of doing an album in a new geographical location and I would do it again actually.
Sarah Darling : From Here And Beyond
What is that gets you up in the morning and drives you to the music you play?
Do you know, that is such a great question. I have been in England for 42 days and my husband is not with me sadly. It has it’s challenges being away from the people you love and your family but when I go out of stage, like, I am loving it just as much as the audience.
They don’t know how much I needed that at that particular moment, you know? It’s just so worth it, it fills my tank. Whenever I play a show that is so beautiful and the shows always are here. It’s almost healing and that country music translates all over the world. Country music is honest and true and it connects with people if they are open to it.
What is ahead for Sarah Darling the rest of the year and in to 2020?
I will come back for Country Music Week and I am playing a few dates in Germany for that. I have already started writing new songs too so I will probably release a new single at the beginning of the next year. If I do another album, it would be the end of next year as well. Lots of things ahead!
Keep up with Sarah on Instagram here.
And Follow her on Facebook here.