Sarah Jarosz as a rock star seems like a disconnect. Throughout six albums, the Texas native has explored bluegrass, folk, and jazz, often to astonishing results (and four Grammy Awards to boot). But on her new album, Polaroid Lovers, Jarosz kicks out the jams with the opener, “Jealous Moon,” a sparkling foray into countrified rock and roll. It’s not quite as unfathomable as Bob Dylan going electric, but it’s an intriguing and captivating change of pace from an artist firmly in control of her work. “I’ve never really thought of my music as one genre,” Jarosz says from her home in Nashville, which she shares with her husband, bassist Jeff Picker. “I wanted to come out guns blazing. I wanted my intentions to be known right from the top.”
Produced by Daniel Tashian (Kacey Musgraves) and featuring cowrites with Tashian, Ruston Kelly, Natalie Hemby, and fellow Texan Jon Randall (Miranda Lambert), the album sees Jarosz firing up another “country banger” (her words) in “Runaway Train,” a gorgeous number that would be right at home in the Tom Petty canon, while other tracks like “When the Lights Go Out” and “The Way It Is Now” bring slices of pop melancholia. Today, G&G is proud to premiere “Days Can Turn Around,” a hushed ballad that finds Jarosz mining more familiar territory, but one constant is her exquisite voice, one of the purest and most dynamic in music today.
Listen to the track below, and read on to hear more from Jarosz on country radio, cocktails, and seeing an Adele show. Polaroid Lovers is out on January 26 and available for preorder here. Jarosz will also launch an extensive tour beginning February 1 in Washington, D.C.
This album was the first time you’ve used cowriters. What went into that decision?
I was hesitant to cowrite, especially around my first couple of records, because of the fear that my voice could be lost. And I was still getting to know my voice. There was always outside pressure from labels and managers to cowrite. I just was closed off to it for a long time because of that reason. This time, it was something I wanted and felt ready to do, and I wasn’t going to get lost in it.
A couple of the songs would sound great on country radio, and I mean that as a compliment!
[Laughs] I don’t take that the wrong way. I wanted to explore some of that as long as it felt organic and natural. I was thinking about songs I listened to, [from artists] like Paul Simon or Billy Joel, who sometimes land in more of the pop realm. I wanted to bring those influences into my musical world through my voice and see what happens.
In the notes accompanying the album, you mention “Mezcal and Lime” as a song inspired by a “life-changing trip to Oaxaca.” How so?
It’s just a magical place. It was post-pandemic, and I had to get out of my house and take a trip somewhere. I went with my husband and two friends and had the best time ever. The life-changing part was this specific Mezcal education tour we did. I’m a big cocktail drinker. I love mixology. I love being from Texas. I love margaritas and tequila. So, I was intrigued by the whole Mezcal thing ahead of time. But it was beyond what I could have imagined regarding the culture and the history. It’s a sacred thing for people who live there.
What’s your go-to place for drinks in Nashville?
Well, these days, I often make cocktails at home because I am turning into an old woman and don’t want to fight the crowds [laughs]. But I love Attaboy. I also really love the Fox. It’s smaller and not as buzzy or well-known as Attaboy. I went there recently and had a rum old-fashioned; it was the best.
I saw on your Instagram that you recently went to an Adele show in Las Vegas. It looked like you were having a great time.
Oh man, it was amazing. My manager flew me and one of my closest friends out as kind of a bachelorette party [Jarosz and Picker got married in May 2023]. Seeing a star like that in such an intimate venue was so inspiring. I found the way that the show is crafted to be very cool.
Could you take anything from her show and apply it to yours?
I was already thinking a lot about my live show. A lot of my older songs are slower and more melancholy. And so, to bring more energy, I’ve often turned to cover songs that were more upbeat. But with these new songs, I don’t have to turn to a cover to achieve that. I want my songs to bring that energy. I’m trying to create a bit of a roller coaster ride for the audience by not settling into one vibe for too long. I think it will be so fun to play these songs onstage.