FolkWorld - David Hintz
Sarah McQuaid – The Plum Tree and the Rose
Let’s follow the path .... Sarah McQuaid was born in Spain, raised in Chicago, is a dual citizen of Ireland and the USA, and now lives in rural England. Although you may become a balanced folk singer/songwriter by studying many different forms of music and their geographies, it does not hurt to have this wide variety of world experiences to help you shape your music. McQuaid uses all of that and then brings in her deep, airy voice. Her quiet power is evident most in a delicate cover of John Martyn’s “Solid Air” using just her voice, her acoustic guitar, and a trumpet. “In Derby Cathedral” is also a powerfully deep, dark arrangement that reminds me of a subtler Loreena McKennitt. There are also shifts into more of a smoky jazz club feel, although the music is still folk based. Ultimately the meditative songs are the ones that amaze me most. I often think of Nico with deeper voiced female vocalists, but rarely use her as a comparison due to the arrangement differences. Here, there is some of the John Cale style production and arrangements evident in Nico’s “The Marble Index”. Just listen to the drone on “S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada” and it is hard to not think of John Cale. This is a powerful record that really grows as each song moves into your head.