Undercurrent (Sugar Hill)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., June 24, 2016
For Austinites who've followed her since her early teens, the fact that Wimberley native Sarah Jarosz blossomed into one of the most stirring musicians of her generation comes as absolutely no surprise. Undercurrent, her fourth studio full-length, arrives far more quietly in terms of production tricks than her previous work, with a smidge less risk-taking. Nevertheless, the album plays out as engrossing as anything she's ever recorded, a mix of old-time folk and contemporary bluegrass that digs deep into the soul and sends hearts soaring. Some still think of Jarosz as the talented young mandolin prodigy with a mouthful of braces, but here the current East Coaster proves her full adulthood with the nighttime chills provided by "House of Mercy" and the sultry, soulful "Comin' Undone," wherein she proudly proclaims, "I'm a lover, but I'm also a fighter." A duet with Rodney Crowell guitarist Jedd Hughes on "Take Me Back," co-written with the Milk Carton Kids' Joey Ryan, haunts with its simplicity and naked emotion. At 25, Jarosz has yet to make a misstep in a career that's still just beginning. Undercurrent might not be her best work, but she's set herself up to go wherever the music takes her, and those following along are sure to revel in the adventure.