The St. Buryan Sessions
Shovel and a Spade Records
Sarah set out to record a career spanning live album with the St. Buryan sessions. The setting for this performance is a centuries old church down the road from her home in Cornwall. Since this project came to fruition in 2020, it was recorded without an audience. There are no bodies in the massive space other than Sarah and her producer/engineer Martin Stansbury. Because the acoustics of the room are so prominent in the recording, the old church is really more than just the place where the songs were recorded. The church is an active presence shaping the songs with its walls echoing the centuries of singers who came before Sarah.
Sarah fits into a lineage with the likes of Sandy Denny, Maddy Prior and Annie Haslam (with a touch of Nico creeping in from time to time). She is a folk singer with a pure tone using an eclectic array of instruments to accompany herself. She accompanies herself with drum on “One Sparrow Down.” She pulls out some electronic tricks to loop her vocals on “In Derby Cathedral” and “If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous.” Elsewhere, Sara utilizes the choir’s piano that happened to be in the church as well as electric and acoustic guitars. On “Sweetness and Pain” all she needs is her voice and the acoustics of that ancient room. The end result is a starkly minimalist recording of exceptional beauty.