Follow Her Anywhere

More than a homecoming for Sarah Jarosz

Sarah, front and center
Sarah, front and center (by Jim Caligiuri)

Sarah Jarosz hadn’t played Austin in nearly a year, but at the One World Theatre Sunday night, she celebrated her 20th birthday a day early, as well as the release of her intriguing second album, Follow Me Down.

At the first of two sold-out performances, Jarosz was as charming as could be. No matter how complex or evolved her acoustic bluegrass sound may get, the Wimberley native’s sense of wonder and innocence remains. While continuing to follow in the footsteps of predecessors like Gillian Welch and Suzanne Vega, Jarosz’s ability to play multiple instruments - banjo, guitar, mandolin - with precision and soul lifts her beyond any other young singer-songwriter with a haunted muse.

Augmented by Nathaniel Smith on cello and Alex Hargreaves on fiddle and mandolin, both of whom it was revealed are younger than Jarosz, it was a spiritual yet joyful 90 minutes. Shawn Colvin appeared, supplying backing vocals to “Run Away,” a reprise of her appearance on Follow Me Down.

There are many reasons to be in awe of Jarosz: her easy going stage presence; an ability to compose songs like the ghostly quiet “Gypsy,” which she performed solo; and her instrumental prowess. However, her choice of cover material – Dylan, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Tim O’Brien – seals it. Firmly rooted in the past with a discriminating eye on the present, Jarosz is just beginning and this celebration was likely to be one of many in a long and fruitful career.

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