Four-time Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz is getting the star treatment as she launches her seventh album, “Polaroid Lovers.” A New York Times spread. A feature on “CBS Saturday Morning.” Fifteen sold-out shows, including at the Bowery Ballroom on Feb 7, and others likely to sell out soon.

The album has a more streamlined sound, with hardly a trace of the bluegrass that put her on the map — the song “When The Lights Go Out” would not be out of place on a Taylor Swift album. The vocalist and multi-instrumentalist could be seen as courting the mainstream, which has been suggested in some of the press coverage of the record. But the Texas native who left New York for Nashville in 2020 after seven years said that was not her intention.

“Honestly, I always just focus on making the best music I can make and the songs kind of chose how the arrangement should be,” Jarosz said in a phone interview. “I think a lot of [the coverage] is a nice byproduct of the thing actually being created. I’m glad that people are thinking that and I definitely think it is appropriate, but I don’t go into a record thinking that I want to be more mainstream.”

“Polaroid Lovers” is Jarosz’s most collaborative release. She worked extensively with co-writers for the first time, sharing credits with Ruston Kelly, The Highwomen’s Natalie Hemby and Daniel Tashian, who produced the album. Tashain’s credits including producing Kacey Musgraves’ 2018 album “Golden Hour” and co-writing several of the songs.

“I definitely collaborated with people before this record, but I think the thing is I sort of embraced is like the Nashville cowrite thing,” said Jarosz, who released her debut album when she was only 18. “I think part of my curiosity this go-around has to do with time and knowing myself and my voice better and not being so concerned like when I was 17 and being told to go into a writing room. I was concerned about losing my voice in the process. I think part of that was moving here to Nashville and living here for the first time and wanting to feel part of this community.

“I kind of had a little list in my mind [of people I wanted to write with]. I had heard about Daniel Tashian for years around Nashville, just through his work with Silver Seas and he’s just a very revered musician here in town, and obviously I loved his work with Kacey Musgraves. And then Ruston I have actually known for a long time but we had never written together. And then someone like Natalie Hemby we actually did write together back when I was 17, and it felt like a full circle. Now I felt ready to write with someone like her.”

Some of the sounds that came out of the recording sessions surprised Jarosz, who plays mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar and banjo.

“More often than not, the instrument I write the song on ends up being the same one that I play in the studio. That’s not always true but in most of the cases it is. With this record I knew I wanted to really dig in and have a full-band sound in a way that I hadn’t fully committed to before. I knew that coming into it but it was with Daniel’s help that he kind of helped me put the band together. We surprised ourselves sometimes.

” ‘Jealous Moon,’ for instance, when we wrote that it was literally on ukulele and nylon string guitar, kind of this quiet, folky little melody, but when we got into the studio it became this rock song kind of (laughs), and I love that about the studio, where things kind of can surprise you. Striking the balance of having a really clear vision of what you want to accomplish but also being open to change. Maybe with this record more than any other, I went into it with a really conscious spirit of openness, and something like the downbeat after the intro of ‘Jealous Moon’ almost scared me, because this is so different than anything I’ve ever recorded before. But it was also so invigorating and electric and vital. Sometimes if you’re scared a little bit, it’s a good thing.”

Four years ago, Jarosz made what she thought was a temporary move, leaving NYC for Nashville but it became permanent. She paid tribute to the Big Apple in “Columbus and 89th.”

“That song in a way, it’s the most personal on the whole record, and it was one of the last few that I wrote for the record,” she said. “You know, that was kind of one of those special songs that process my emotions for me in song form (laughs). Leaving New York during the pandemic was very quick and rushed and I didn’t actually know that I was moving away. I thought I was temporarily leaving and would come back to the city like many people and never wound up going back. It took until this song was written to process that, really closing of my youth chapter and really the beginning of adulthood, and all of that emotion was in that song. Honestly, when I listened back for the first handful of times I couldn’t listen to it without crying.”

With shows announced through the end of July, supporting “Polaroid Lovers” should take up the bulk of the year for Jarosz, but she said that I’m With Her, the trio of Jarosz, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, is “very much so” still a thing.

“We’ve been writing in spurts whenever our scheduled alone over the past two years, and we’re going to make a record.”

Photo by Shervin Lain

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