From: United States
Consider the emotions whirling out of these lines in Sarah Darling’s new album, Angels & Devils:
He’s the first taste of something you shouldn’t have/He’s the first lie you tell to your mom and dad/He’s the reason you love the smell of Polo and peppermint. (“The Boy Never Stays”)
You should know that it’s toxic, baby/We can never go back/There’s a line, don’t you cross it, save me/Save yourself. (“Toxic”)
I want to be your cigarette, I want to linger on your breath/Be the taste you can’t forget and can’t put down. (“Bad Habit”)
Is there a songwriter alive who wouldn’t thrill to have coined these lyrical insights? Well, Sarah Darling did. All of them.
Angels & Devils, Sarah’s second album from Black River Entertainment, is engaging on all fronts. Her ethereally beautiful voice mines every grain of sentiment in the wise, image-rich lyrics. Jimmy Nichols’ production is impeccable, a work of art in itself. He designed the album to display Sarah’s vocal talents, both when she’s fronting a full band and when it’s just her and a piano. “It’s a two-sided album where you get two sides of me,” she says.
Of the eleven songs, Sarah co-wrote nine, including the irresistibly catchy (and suggestive) first single, “Something To Do With Your Hands.”
The other two cuts are highly individualized versions of U2’s 1987 classic, “With Or Without You,” and Elton John’s 1976 hit, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.” Both are favorites that Sarah sometimes performs in her shows.
Sarah has been busy writing, touring and otherwise expanding her range since she released her first album, Every Monday Morning, in 2009. “I’ve basically spent two years visiting country radio stations and singing at fairs and festivals,” she says. “But I feel like I’m always making an album.”
Last year brimmed with bright spots for Iowa native. One of these was a high-profile promotion on Amazon.com. It resulted from Sarah having posted on YouTube a video of her singing “With Or Without You.” XM Satellite Radio liked her take on the song so much that it began playing the audio track. This, in turn, led to a deal through which Amazon offered the song as a free download. In one month, fans downloaded more than 40,000 copies.
This past December, Sarah fulfilled her life-long ambition to play Carnegie Hall when she joined a cast of other performers there to sing the songs of Tim Janis and Andrew J. Wight. Wight, an Englishman, who was so enchanted by Sarah’s voice that he commissioned her to sing demos of his songs. He then followed with the invitation to Carnegie.
“Being artist-of-the-month on GAC [Great American Country television] was a big highlight for me as well,” Sarah notes. Her music video for “Jack Of Hearts” went Top 10 on GAC its first week out and earned her a spot hosting the network’s “Top 20 Countdown.”
Angels & Devils samples Sarah’s songwriting from her earliest days in Nashville onward. The plaintive “Stop The Bleeding” is her oldest song on the album and the one that earned her the record deal with Black River. “My writing has definitely changed over the past few years,” she asserts. “I call what I do now ‘Sarah Darling 2.0 It has a lot more character to it. My first album was very much about a lost love. Since then, my writing has become more broad and venturous. I write about things that are relevant to everybody.”
“Bad Habit,” Sarah confides, is her favorite among the new crop of tunes—not just for its artistry but because the incomparable Vince Gill sings with her on it. “It was a dream come true for me,” she says.
Clearly, every song here has the power and the hooks to become someone’s favorite. “Thank You” is a sweetly sung assertion that love at its best endures and sustains. “The Boy Never Stays” recalls the sensual grip of a girl’s first feelings of love. “Toxic” declares that some relationships are so inherently poisonous they should never be revived.
The title song puzzles over the question, “Why do good girls go with bad boys?” “Waiting On You” laments ending a love affair and prays it will resume. “I Found In You” plumbs a longing that overlooks the obvious for relief. Every song reaches for the heart.
Sarah’s co-writers on the new album are Jimmy Nichols, Adam Shoenfeld (who co-produced two of the tracks with Nichols), Odie Blackmon, Jason Deere, Josh Osborne, Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Joe Perault, Shaunna Bolton, Will Doughty and Jonathan Cain (of the band Journey).
“I try never to stop documenting what’s going on it my life,” Sarah confesses. “I really am an open book when I write.” In Angels & Devils, she has penned a book that’s well worth the reading.