Happy new year readers! There’s an astonishing richness to Sarah McQuaid’s voice, evident in this ethereal interpretation of ‘Tug of the Moon’, originally released on her acclaimed 2018 album ‘If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous’. Her vocal is elevated further by the extraordinary acoustics of St Buryan’s Church in West Cornwall, the setting for McQuaid’s beautifully recorded new album. Like many recent musical projects, the album was a consequence of the pandemic and the enforced pause in McQuaid’s touring schedule. Unable to continue gigging, McQuaid embarked on a successful crowd-funding campaign to finance the album, which was conceived as a concert set and recorded by Martin Stansbury in the remarkable medieval church near her Cornish home. The video, directed by Mawgan Lewis, ably supported by veteran camera operator John Crooks, genuinely captures the beauty of the building and performance and is a fine complement to an enchanting song. An accompanying nine-minute film, ‘The Making of The St Buryan Sessions’, makes for fascinating viewing – find it here.
Despite being accompanied solely by her guitar, McQuaid manages to create a surprisingly full sound, warm and magical, and the simplicity ensures we focus attention on the lyrics: “The tug of the moon // Is slowing us down // Drawing the tide // Buckling the ground…While the moon passes over us // Ever more distantly pulling away // As we turn toward the sunrise // And night becomes day,” which carry a sense of mystery and the cosmic rhythms of eternity. McQuaid’s poetic words, referencing the effect of the Moon’s gravity and our imperfect way of measuring the passage of time, are a perfect way to bring in the New Year.
McQuaid says of the video: “Huge thanks to Americana UK for hosting this video premiere of ‘The Tug Of The Moon (The St Buryan Sessions)’! The song was inspired by the ‘leap second’ that we had to add to the New Year’s Eve countdown way back in 2016. The reason we needed that extra second is that in addition to causing the tides, the moon’s gravitational pull is also very gradually slowing down the Earth’s rotation — so every year really is just a hair longer than the one before it. I was struck by the image and the concept, and when the great Michael Chapman kindly sent me his beautiful Ibanez Artist electric and told me to write some songs on it, this was one of the first ones I came up with. The song really came out of that guitar – if I’d tried to write it on an acoustic guitar, it would have been a very different song, because that lovely tremolo and sustain is such a big part of what it is. I’m so grateful to Michael for that. When Covid put paid to my touring in 2020 and I decided to record and film a live-in-lockdown album sans audience, I grabbed the opportunity to revisit ‘The Tug Of The Moon’, as the song had grown and developed since I first recorded it for my 2018 album ‘If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous’, which Michael produced. I miss him so much.”
Born in Spain but with dual American and Irish citizenship and having lived in France, Sarah McQuaid is a citizen of the world and she carries that sensitivity and experience with her in her song-writing. For the last fifteen years, she has made Cornwall, England her home. The multi-instrumentalist has lived a life of music – at the age of twelve, she was touring the USA and Canada with the Chicago Children’s Choir and learned the guitar and piano from her mother, a folk singer herself. She has gone on to have a highly-acclaimed, award-winning career in music and ‘The St Buryan Sessions’ is McQuaid’s sixth solo album; it takes us on a journey through her 24 year career, including fan favourites from her 1997 debut onwards. The album is a gorgeous, emotional experience but start here, with the video premiere of ‘The Tug of the Moon’.