Sarah Jarosz “Polaroid Lovers”

Rounder Records, 2024

How to stand out from the crowd.

artwork for Sarah Jarosz album "Polaroid Lovers"If four Grammy Awards, including Best Americana Album in 2020 with ‘World on the Ground‘, weren’t enough to make her stand out from the crowd, this, Texas-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz’s seventh full-length album certainly does the job. Fresh, accessible, and universal, ‘Polaroid Lovers‘ represents a departure from Jarosz’s usual writing style in that it is her first co-written album. More confident in her musical identity and, therefore, with the knowledge she could stay true to herself, Jarosz, having relocated to Nashville, allowed herself the freedom for this new challenge. With a stellar list of co-writers, including Daniel Tashian, Jon Randall, Gordie Sampson, Sarah Buxton, Ruston Kelly and Natalie Hemby; renowned musicians including Tashian, Randall, Jeff Picker, Fred Eltringham, Tom Bukovac, Rob McNelley, Justin Schipper and Emmanuel Valdez and a creative crew of Justin Francis, Skyler Chuckry, Louis Remenapp, Gena Johnson, Paul Blakemore and producer Daniel Tashian all on her wavelength, ‘Polaroid Lovers‘ captures many fleeting moments and makes them last forever. Opening with the powerhouse that is ‘Jealous Moon‘ (Jarosz/Tashian), which Jarosz describes as being “about the parts of ourselves that we try to keep hidden, and the moments when they rise to the surface, and we just have to ride the wave,” one’s attention is immediately captured, and the bar is set high.

When The Lights Go Out‘ (Jarosz/Randall/Sampson) easily maintains the standard with Jarosz’s dreamy intrigue, questioning who someone really is. With its 6/8 time signature, the rhythm is captivating as the lyrics gently ask, “Who are you when the lights go out / You got me wondering / How’d you go from a face in the crowd / To all I’m thinking about?” Falling in love in an instant: “In a dream, we were Polaroid lovers“, giving the album its title and, dare it be said, its raison d’etre.

After realising that many of the up-tempo songs in her set were covers, Jarosz co-wrote ‘Runaway Train‘, again with Jon Randall. A high-octane love song with a sing-along chorus, it feels like a special blend of Taylor Swift, The Chicks, and Sheryl Crow with “hit” written all over it. ‘The Way It Is Now‘ (Jarosz/Buxton) and ‘Dying Ember‘ (Jarosz/Kelly) both maintain an upbeat feel whilst grappling with life realities and love stories before we are taken into the hugely poignant ‘Columbus & 89th‘, in which Jarosz laments leaving her beloved New York.

Throughout the album, Jarosz reflects on her past. Her loves, childhood dreams, places she’s lived and all the versions of herself that she has been all in one way or another inform the stories told and are reflected in the assured, definitive sonic experience. The pure clarity and delightful tonality of Jarosz’s vocals, the magical melodies, and the wide range of stunningly employed instruments make for compelling listening from beginning to end. The arrangements are exciting as well as sensitive and understated. Special mention must go to Fred Eltringham for his wise, elegant drumming and percussion, which refreshingly provide a solid but subtle structure without overpowering—a rare feat.

Overall, ‘Polaroid Lovers‘ is a beautifully blended production. And, as for the questions asked in ‘Good At What I Do‘ (Jarosz/Hemby): “Am I good at what I do / Do I live up to the kings / Will my words go on forever / When my voice no longer sings“, the resounding answer has to be “Yes!”


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Hi, Viv – Great review. I love this album, one of my favourites of the year so far. It reminds me of the first time I heard Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Golden Hour’, also produced by Dan Tashian, though I think it maintains a little more of the Americana tag than that did.


Thank you, Fred, yes, it is a great album, I have been thoroughly enjoying it too!