Spiral Earth - David Kushar (Dec 2008)

I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning
Sarah McQuaid

Sarah McQuaid has led a peripatetic life, having been born in Spain and raised in Chicago. Subsequently, after a thirteen year spell in Ireland, she now lives with her husband and two children in the home formerly occupied by her parents, near Penzance, Cornwall. How has this affected her music? Well, her previous release, When Two Lovers Meet, was an exploration of all things Irish, whereas this new album has found most of its inspiration from the Appalachian region of America, her mother’s favourite music.

Sarah has previously explained that it was her mother who introduced her to folk music and all the songs on this album have a particular emotional connection to her and their relationship. Of course, purely musically this is a perfectly logical move in one sense, as these songs and instrumentals are mostly based upon anglo-celtic folk origins.

Having run workshops for the guitar and written a tuition book on the subject Sarah certainly isn’t a slouch on six strings. And when coupled with a voice that has been described as ‘matured cognac’ she has all the fundamentals for performance firmly in place.

This material is usually treated to a rustic approach, sort of sparse and dusty, however, Sarah’s angle is different, teasing out the warmly embracing hymn-like qualities of the music, which are in line with her original motivation to record these songs. Her singing has shades of Baez minus the operatic warble and Gillian Welch without so much Nashville twang. It’s perfect for the reading of Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode To Billie Joe’, ‘In The Pines’ and ‘West Virginia Boys’. Whereas ‘Shady Grove’ is just fine as an instrumental.

Sarah has included two self-penned numbers. The first, ‘Only An Emotion’, she describes as ‘a song in defence of sadness’ and the flippancy of comments to ‘cheer up’. The second, ‘Last Song’, is a deeply personal ode to her mother and daughter who never had the chance to meet each other.

I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning illustrates the cyclical nature of life with piercing clarity. It’s highly appropriate that these songs are full of detail regarding two of the mainstays of our existence – food and love. It makes for a moving tribute to her mother and a unique evocation of the great Appalachian songbook.