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SXSW showcase reviews

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, March 19, 2010, Music

Sarah Jarosz

Momo's, Friday, March 19

She's only 18, but Sarah Jarosz possesses a very old soul. She may not have set out to prove it with this set, but that's exactly what she did, with songs from Patty Griffith, Bob Dylan, Shel Silverstein, Tom Waits, and the Decemberists, performed in a style that's almost a century old. The Wimberley native has shown tremendous growth in confidence since the release of last year's debut, Song Up in Her Head (Sugar Hill). Perhaps it comes from the Grammy nomination she received for "Mansinneedof," a fleet-fingered instrumental that she accomplished on solo mandolin. Not many singer-songwriter types would try a new untitled song with a rainy-day feel to it in front of a packed house and a potential national radio audience (the show was broadcast on KUT), but Jarosz did, and in turn made the room seem remarkably intimate. Midway through, she introduced Black Prairie, a side project for members of the Decemberists, who made her bluegrass sound just a bit livelier and thrilled everyone with a spooky rendition of the band's "Shankill Butchers." Is she the future of acoustic music? Perhaps, but it's a pleasure to know Jarosz is so well grounded in the musical roots of the past.

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