Filled with great , stomping melodies and great vocals – VENTS is pleased to team up with Sarah Lou Richards for the exclusive premiere of her newest single “High On A Hill”.
Mixing the bright melodies of pop music with the texture, twang, and storytelling narratives of Americana music, Sarah Lou Richards expands her sound with this year’s Someone Who Gets Me. The new album arrives September 29th, 2017.
Shaped by the highway miles, personal experiences and life changes that have unfolded since her previous release — 2014’s The Woman Behind the Curtain, whose track list featured the production talents and vocal harmonies of Gary Nichols, front man of Grammy award winning bluegrass act The SteelDrivers,Someone Who Gets Me finds Richards making the biggest, boldest music of her career. It also builds upon the sound she began developing in 2007, after the Wisconsin native moved to Nashville and dove headfirst into a mix of mainstream country (Miranda Lambert, Bonnie Raitt) and left-of-center Americana singers (Ryan Adams, Brandi Carlile, Patty Griffin). She felt at home between those two camps. Throughout her 10 years in Nashville, Richards has also maintained an active touring schedule while volunteering at local music-based charities like Musicians on Call between gigs.
As the title suggests, Someone Who Gets Me is quite personal, full of original music written in celebration of friends’ weddings (“Love Always Wins”), the births of Richards’ niece and nephew (“Jaidyn’s Lullaby,” “Song for Peaches”), and her own self-empowerment (“Soldiers Heart”). Richards whips up some convincing fiction, too, turning “The Fisherman” into a story-song about a water-worker and delivering “Plane Blue” from the perspective of a man scorned.
Much of Someone Who Gets Me was written at home in Nashville. Even so, Richards headed back to her native Midwest to record the album, which was tracked in Minneapolis with producer Adrian Suarez and a multi-piece band. Together, they filled Richards’ songs with guitar, pedal steel, bass, drums, and overlapping layers of vocal harmonies. The kickoff track, “High on a Hill,” even finds the singer working the chorus of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” into the final moments, creating a bridge between her new song and a familiar favorite. Eclectic and expansive, the record widens Richards’ sound while doubling down on her strengths. Sarah Lou Richards has never sounded more like herself. . .and Sarah Lou Richards has never sounded better.
In addition, we sit down with Sarah to talk about her single and more!
Hi Sarah, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been great! It’s been a whirlwind of a year recording and getting this new record ready for release!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “High on a Hill”?
Sure! This tune has grown a lot since it’s inception. Originally it was much slower and without the “Freefallin’ outro. Over time, I added in the outro, speeding up only that ending and only a little bit. When I sent the batch of songs to be considered for the album to Adrian, he asked me to play around with the tempo and we eventually landed here. The tune has gone from plaintive and moody to hopeful and strong.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
There wasn’t a particular event, but it did come from a place of frustration at the trials of life. There are so many things out of our control, so many hiccups and unknowns in the future. As someone who likes control, I sometimes feel helpless that there is so much out of my hands. But I can control my attitude and my inner peace which is why you’ll find me in the sun at the day’s end.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
It’s on the list! It’s fun to daydream about ways to make this music come to life visually. We shall see what happens.
The single comes off your new album Someone Who Gets Me – what’s the story behind the title?
Someone Who Gets Me is a line from another track on the record (Right Where I Need to Be.) My previous 3 album titles all nodded to The Wizard of Oz. When I decided to branch away from that trend for this album, the sky was the limit for titles. Someone Who Gets Me popped out pretty quickly and was clearly the way to go as this whole project was built with people who really see me. From songwriting collaborators to design team, photographers to producer, this record is transparently Sarah Lou.
How was the recording and writing process?
The recording process was a dream. Working with Adrian Suarez in his studio in Minneapolis was unlike any experience I’ve had to date. We blocked off days at a time to submerge ourselves in the making of this record. We breathed it day in and out. It was like we were in our own special world, eating bagels & smear and drinking coffee and tea while the sun went up and fell again. I had never recorded an album before with people I have a history with and it was a gift.
I have been writing these tunes over the past 7 years. I wrote Song for Peaches in 2010, in the months leading up to my nephew’s birth. The most recent tune on this batch of songs is Soldier’s Heart, which I wrote in the spring of 2016. Some of the tunes came quickly & others lingered in the ether, coming into my brain in pieces. I love them all dearly.
What role does Nashville play in your writing?
I have learned so much in my 10 years in Nashville. Songwriting is serious business and there are many pros here to learn from. Being in the heart of Music City is a blessing and a curse. I am grateful to be surrounded by creative folks who hold the art of songwriting and performing in the highest esteem. It can be competitive too thought which throws off my game occasionally. But at the end of the day, keep showing up and working hard; there is enough to go around.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else than when you are writing in your own?
In all honesty, I think they are pretty similar. When I write by myself I get distracted often and easily by the pets or checking the mail etc. My mind wanders in and out of the topic at hand that I’m crafting a song about. Adam McDonough, who I collaborate most with in town (and who is my favorite songwriter to work with) will tell you our cowrite sessions are pretty much the same. It works though! I can’t force a song by myself or try and beat the clock when cowriting. The songs always come, in their own time.
What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this record?
There is a lot of my personal life on this album. There are songs about my niece & nephew (Jaidyn’s Lullaby and Song for Peaches) one on falling in love with my husband (New Kind of Song) about losing my grandma (On Account of Rain) and a reflection of myself (Soldier’s Heart.) Sometimes it’s hard to write about things so close to home but there is a relief in it too. Once you commit to that honesty, the rest tumbles out. After all, there is nothing more you than you!
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes! I will be touring in October & November, sharing this new batch of tunes. The tour is still coming together but so far LA, NYC, Minneapolis, Chicago & Nashville are on the list!
What else is happening next in Sarah Lou Richards’ world?
In the last year I recorded this album & got married which are two pretty exciting accomplishments. In the next few months these songs will be buzzing though americana airwaves and I will be back on the road, singing them to those who will listen. And I’m sure it won’t be too long before we go back into the studio….Adrian and I already have some new ideas brewing!