She sings with a raw, survivor’s emotion… with renewed optimism in “I Will Rise,” with the irrepressible lyric: “I may stumble and I may cry … and if I get knocked down, I will rise.” Simple sentiments, but sung with grace and strength. There’s much on this album to suggest a welcome, not-to-be-denied debut.
— STEVE MORSE, former staff music critic at the Boston Globe for 28 years who now teaches a Rock History course for Berklee College of Music
This new release is Sarah’s first solo venture (along with a great band), but she is no stranger to the music scene. “I feel very lucky to have been in three really great and long lasting bands over the years (Shy Five, Paved Country and currently, Duppy Conquerors), playing music that has deeply moved those listening, including myself. I‘ve had people go out of their way to tell me how much the music has meant to them (for each of those bands) and how it has been an important backdrop in their lives. There is no higher praise than that, and to me that is truly the essence of what music is and should be – moving.”
Not your grandmother’s Mendelssohn! This album is a collection of Sarah’s original songs, at once beautifully melodic with catchy hooks, rich harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. They are songs of love, loss, vulnerability, motherhood, hope and determination.
Truly a band collaboration, the album was made over a two year period allowing for in-depth concentration on every song. And though Sarah wrote the songs, each member brought their ideas, influences and unique sounds to the mix. Co-produced, engineered and mixed by two time Grammy Award winner Ducky Carlisle, combined with the musicians who had played together in other bands, there was a great feeling of unity during the recording process.
Sarah grew up loving to sing and as a child always found great comfort in doing so. She started playing guitar as a youth and had a trio with her two best buddies from her neighborhood in Cambridge, MA. They’d play at their parents parties and from there, the performance bug bit. It wasn’t until her college years that she first met the musicians who would become Shy Five. It was a union that was meant to be (but that’s a story for another time). During that era, by default, she became the band’s drummer (having never played drums before!), contributed a bit to the songwriting and of course, she sang. The band liked her unconventional (untrained) drumming style and surprising herself, she found it was something she could do.
Putting aside her drums for a while and picking up her neglected guitar again, she found herself in another unplanned union with a high-school/college friend. That was the birth of Paved Country. It started out as a singing/writing collaboration, but once they started recording, the engineer/guitar player convinced them that they should all play out in clubs. As with Shy Five, they enjoyed a long run and Sarah began to write in ernest, finding it to be a great outlet and a rewarding challenge. They made three top-notch albums together.
Along with playing guitar and singing in her new band, Mendelsohn, Sarah is currently back on the drums and one of the vocalists in Duppy Conquerors, a tribute to Bob Marley and a local favorite. This nine piece band plays Marley’s music with love and respect, covering all eras of his music. The band was put together by former Shy Five bandmate, Jeff Robinson, who also plays sax on Sarah’s new album along with the Duppy Conqueror horn section, guitarist, Jonas Kahn, keyboardist, Carol Namkoong and former lead singer, Curtis King.
And then there’s the kid band, Rubber Biscuit, another fun side project. Sarah and her two bandmates play mini instruments, yes, Sarah plays mini drums, then there’s ukes, guitarts, accordians, percussion of all sorts, kazoos, and pretty much anything else that comes along. To quote from their website, “Rubber Biscuit is a trio that performs for children, but is truly a band for all ages. You can’t help but notice how much fun they’re having when they play and how their exuberance takes hold of the audience as well. They play on miniature instruments with luscious three part harmonies and a unique sound of their own. Their song selection is what sets them apart from most other young people’s music, ranging from gospel to doo-wop, rock and roll, tin pan alley, calypso, a few originals and of course some of the more traditional songs for children.