Sarah McQuaid | If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous

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Folk: Singer/Songwriter Folk: Alternative Folk Moods: Featuring Guitar
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If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous

by Sarah McQuaid

“The precision and sophistication of the writing and playing blows me away,” writes producer Michael Chapman in his intro to Sarah's fifth solo album, which also sees her expanding her battery of instruments to include piano and electric guitar.
Genre: Folk: Singer/Songwriter
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous
3:48 $0.99
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2. Slow Decay
3:13 $0.99
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3. One Sparrow Down
2:26 $0.99
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4. The Silence Above Us
4:51 $0.99
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5. Forever Autumn
3:38 $0.99
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6. Dies Irae
3:35 $0.99
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7. The Day of Wrath, That Day
4:11 $0.99
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8. Cot Valley
4:25 $0.99
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9. New Beginnings
2:44 $0.99
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10. Time to Love
3:39 $0.99
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11. Break Me Down
4:40 $0.99
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12. The Tug of the Moon
3:59 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Produced by legendary singer-songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous is the fifth solo album by UK-based singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid. Available here as a download, the album can also be ordered directly from Sarah on CD and vinyl LP - see Sarah’s website for details.

Musings on mortality dominate this recording, but it’s by no means all gloom: “Break Me Down” is possibly the cheeriest song ever written about decomposition, while “One Sparrow Down” (backed not by Sarah’s trademark DADGAD-tuned guitar but rather by a battery of unorthodox percussion instruments including wine bottle and oven grill) takes a similarly upbeat approach to the death of a bird hell-bent on attacking its own reflection, unseen by the predatory cat calmly watching from her perch on the windowsill. In the liner notes for the album, Sarah thanks her cat Nightshine for contributing guest vocals to the track, and apologises to her for the implicit metaphor.

A cover of Jeff Wayne’s melancholy “Forever Autumn” leads into an arrangement for voice and guitar of “Dies Irae”, the medieval chant whose melody is echoed not only in Wayne’s intro to his classic War Of The Worlds number but also in countless film soundtrack themes (The Exorcist, The Shining and Citizen Kane, to name a few). Here as elsewhere on the album, McQuaid’s guitar shines on an equal basis with her velvet-textured voice. Indeed, two of the tracks are purely instrumental: “New Beginnings”, written as a wedding march for former pop star Zoë Pollock of “Sunshine On A Rainy Day” fame (with whom Sarah recorded the album Crow Coyote Buffalo under the band name Mama), and “The Day Of Wrath, That Day”, whose title is a literal translation of the first line in “Dies Irae”.

The propulsive, apocalyptic title track was inspired by a warning McQuaid heard herself giving her son as he excavated an enormous hole in their back garden. There’s an obvious allusion to fracking (“Splitting cracks in the rock to free the power inside”), but the song’s thematic scope extends well beyond that: “Sometimes the way to fix a problem is to turn the pressure off” is a maxim that could apply to virtually any aspect of life.

On four of the tracks, including lead single “The Tug Of The Moon”, McQuaid plays an electric guitar belonging to Chapman, which he’s since given her on long-term loan. “The precision and sophistication of the writing and playing blows me away. I am so glad to be involved,” he writes in his introduction to the album booklet. Since meeting Sarah when both artists played the Village Pump Festival in 2014, Chapman has become a staunch friend and supporter, even performing as her opening act at a local concert he and his wife arranged for her. Sarah became a regular visitor to the Chapmans’ farmhouse in Cumbria, and during one visit he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse: “We were having a chat and a glass of wine, and he said ‘Why don’t you let me produce your next album?’,” Sarah recalls. “I’m glad he said it, because I’d never have dared ask otherwise!”

Another new addition is piano, which McQuaid plays to beautiful effect on “The Silence Above Us”. Guest musicians include Chapman on archtop electric guitar, Roger Luxton on drums and percussion, Samuel Hollis on upright and electric bass, Richard Evans on trumpet, Georgia Ellery on violin and Joe Pritchard on cello.

If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous was made possible thanks to financial support from Arts Council England Grants For The Arts, using public money from the Government and the National Lottery, and from Cultivator, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Madrid (to a Spanish father and an American mother), raised in Chicago and now living in rural England, Sarah McQuaid was taught piano and guitar by her folksinging mother, and remembers being inspired by meeting her distant cousin, well-known singer/songwriter/storyteller Gamble Rogers, at her grandmother’s house in Indiana. From the age of twelve she was embarking on tours of the US and Canada with the Chicago Children’s Choir, and at eighteen she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg.

She moved to Ireland in 1994 and lived there for 13 years, working as a music journalist and magazine editor. In 2007, she re-released her 1997 debut solo album, When Two Lovers Meet, and launched her solo career with a performance on Irish national television as the musical guest on John Kelly’s popular Friday evening arts show The View.

The same year saw her moving to England, and in 2008 she released her second album, I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning. In contrast to the first album’s focus on Irish traditional songs and instrumentals, the follow-up was a celebration of old-time Appalachian folk, with Sarah’s arrangements punctuated by her own compositions and a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s classic “Ode to Billie Joe.” The two albums were re-released as a double-CD set in North America in 2010 and immediately went to No. 1 on both the album and artist Folk-DJ chart.

Crow Coyote Buffalo, an album of songs co-written by Sarah with fellow Penzance resident Zoë (author and performer of 1991 UK Top 10 hit single “Sunshine On A Rainy Day”), was released in 2009 under the band name Mama and garnered rave reviews: Spiral Earth described the pair as “Two pagan goddesses channelling the ghost of Jim Morrison.”

Like its predecessors, Sarah’s third album The Plum Tree And The Rose (Waterbug, 2012) was recorded in Trevor Hutchinson’s Dublin studio and produced by Gerry O’Beirne, but represented a departure from her previous work in that nine of its thirteen tracks were originals. Also featured were medieval and Elizabethan numbers and a cover of John Martyn’s “Solid Air”.

To record her fourth album Walking Into White (Waterbug, 2015), Sarah 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 and Sarah’s cousin Adam Pierce. Recorded and mixed in just under three weeks, Walking Into White was selected by FolkWords as Album of the Month and nominated for both Best Album from a Female Artist and Album of the Year.

In April 2017, Sarah was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ards International Guitar Festival in Newtownards, Northern Ireland (previous recipients include legendary guitarists Davey Graham, John Renbourn, John Martyn, Martin Simpson, Pierre Bensusan and Martin Carthy) in recognition of her innovative use of the DADGAD tuning and her authorship of The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book (Ossian/Music Sales Inc, 1995). She regularly presents workshops on the DADGAD tuning (as well as on songwriting, tour booking and more) at festivals, music schools and venues around the globe, and is working on a follow-up book on DADGAD song accompaniment.

Sarah will be promoting her fifth solo album, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (Shovel And A Spade, 2018), with 2018 tours in the UK, Ireland, USA and continental Europe, and hopes to extend her range into Canada, Australia and New Zealand the following year.

www.sarahmcquaid.com

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