Sarah McQuaid | Walking Into White

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Folk: Singer/Songwriter Folk: Alternative Folk Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Walking Into White

by Sarah McQuaid

The fourth solo album by an artist whose voice has been likened to malt whiskey, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine” (Minor 7th). In her hands, the guitar becomes much more than merely an accompanying instrument.
Genre: Folk: Singer/Songwriter
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Low Winter Sun
2:52 $0.99
2. Where the Wind Decides to Blow
2:09 $0.99
3. The Tide
2:53 $0.99
4. I Am Grateful for What I Have
2:30 $0.99
5. Sweetness and Pain, Pt. 1
0:47 $0.99
6. Walking Into White
3:09 $0.99
7. Jackdaws Rising
2:51 $0.99
8. Yellowstone
3:41 $0.99
9. The Silver Lining
2:13 $0.99
10. Sweetness and Pain, Pt. 2
0:44 $0.99
11. Leave It for Another Day
3:34 $0.99
12. Sweetness and Pain, Pt. 3
0:43 $0.99
13. Canticle of the Sun (All Creatures of Our God and King)
2:37 $0.99
clip
14. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
4:01 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Walking Into White is the fourth solo album from Sarah McQuaid. To record it, she travelled from her adopted home in Cornwall, England, to the small town of Cornwall, New York, USA, in order to work with co-producers Jeremy Backofen (Frightened Rabbit, Felice Brothers) and Sarah’s cousin Adam Pierce (Mice Parade, Tom Brosseau, Múm).

Coming from outside the folk world and having never worked with Sarah before, Adam and Jeremy found and nurtured the raw edge and intensity that have always been present in her live performances, while their occasionally unorthodox recording methods (a mini-cassette recorder mounted on a microphone stand, for example) bring out a striking intimacy and immediacy in both her vocals and her guitar sound. Recorded and mixed in just under three weeks, Walking Into White is by far the most personal and emotional album Sarah has made to date.

Three of the songs take their inspiration from Arthur Ransome’s classic Swallows and Amazons series of children’s books. The title track uses the arresting image of two children lost in a moorland fog as an allegory for the sensation of stumbling blindly through life; in “The Tide”, a mud-bound sailboat becomes a portrait of a marriage, while “Where The Wind Decides To Blow” performs a similar transfiguration on a homemade sailing sled sent hurtling across a frozen lake by an unexpected blizzard.

In “Yellowstone”, a young boy’s obsession with the spectre of volcanic apocalypse sparks a rumination on the buried terrors that haunt us all: “I know I’m not the only one / To fear the ground I tread upon / Volcanos of all kinds / Torment our minds,” Sarah sings almost meditatively over a samba rhythm delicately embellished by Adam’s cajón and Dan Lippel’s classical guitar.

“Jackdaws Rising” takes the form of a three-part round, with Sarah’s lyrics and vocal melodies overlapping in counterpoint to a guitar instrumental composed by her friends Pete Coleman and Clare Hines. The other two parts are sung by Adele Schulz (who also contributes beautiful harmonies on “The Tide”) and Sarah’s manager and touring sound engineer, Martin Stansbury. Sarah, Martin, Adam and Jeremy all supply the stomps and handclaps that punctuate this 4/4 song in 5/4 time – a brain-tickling polyrhythm that was one of many ideas introduced by Adam.

Other guest musicians include Gareth Flowers, whose soaring trumpet brings the upbeat single “The Silver Lining” to a stirring climax (he also duets with Sarah on the title song), cellist Kivie Cahn-Lipman (“Where The Wind Decides To Blow” and Sarah’s evocative guitar instrumental “I Am Grateful For What I Have”), and pianist Rob King (“The Tide”). Jeremy plays bass on “The Silver Lining”, and Adam pitches in on a plethora of instruments. On the album opener “Low Winter Sun”, he uses an electric guitar and an early 1980s synthesizer to create a wash of sound that acts as foil and underpinning for Sarah’s acoustic guitar rendition of a church bell peal; elsewhere, he plays everything from the aforementioned cajón to drums, tambourine, bass, vibraphones and air organ (this last item is also played by Martin to fine effect on Sarah’s setting of the early 20th century hymn “Canticle Of The Sun/All Creatures Of Our God And King”).

Rounding out the album are “Leave It For Another Day”, co-written by Sarah with Gerry O’Beirne, who produced all three of her previous solo recordings; “Sweetness And Pain”, an a cappella song split into three parts that serve as brief interludes between the other tracks; and a cover of Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”.

Produced and mixed by Adam Pierce and Jeremy Backofen
Engineered by Jeremy Backofen
Creative direction by Martin Stansbury
Recorded and mixed at Tree Time Studios, Cornwall, NY, USA
Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music, New Windsor, NY, USA
Design and original cover artwork by Mary Guinan
Photography by Phil Nicholls

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