Sarah McQuaid brings new album recorded in church during lockdown to York.
Folksinger Sarah McQuaid is back on the road, touring a new album recorded in a church during lockdown and featuring a touching tribute to a late friend and musical mentor.
The multi-award-winning artist is coming to York on Friday, 20 May, one of the stops on a world tour to showcase her sixth solo album ‘The St Buryan Sessions’, released in October following a successful crowd-funding campaign.
The album was conceived during coronavirus lockdowns which took her off the road and Sarah said she missed being able to share her music with fans.
‘I can’t wait to get back out on the road again,’ Sarah said. ‘Obviously I’m nervous about coronavirus, but I desperately miss performing to live audiences. The few gigs that I managed to do last summer were so, so lovely. Every time I do a gig, it just brings home how much I’ve missed it.’
‘The St Buryan Sessions’, named after the Mediaeval church near her West Cornwall home where it was recorded, takes listeners on a journey through an array of sounds, with microphones carefully placed throughout the building to let her voice and music soar through a magnificent acoustic setting.
The album’s concert is a set list for the concerts coronavirus stopped her doing and includes fan favourites ‘In Derby Cathedral’, ‘The Sun Goes on Rising’ and ‘Yellowstone’.
It is an intimate journey through a range of sounds and emotions, one undertaken by performer and listener. Songs on the album showcase a career spanning more than two decades, with ‘Charlie’s Gone Home’ from her 1997 debut album ‘When Two Lovers Meet’ and music from her latest studio album ‘If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous’ also included.
Production comes courtesy of her long-serving audio engineer Martin Stansbury.
‘The St Buryan Sessions’ also includes two previously unrecorded covers, the jazz standard ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Rabbit Hills’. The latter was written by Michael Chapman, Sarah’s past producer and close friend who recently passed away, and she performs it on a grand piano which animates his words.
Sarah said she could not express how sad she felt about never being able to see him again.
‘I was absolutely devastated by the news that Michael has left this world. He was a real musical mentor to me. I wouldn’t have ever started playing electric guitar if he hadn’t handed me his Ibanez Artist and said “Play this.” My heart goes out to Andru – she and Michael have both been such good friends to me,’ she said.
In a YouTube video documenting the making of ‘The St Buryan Sessions’, Sarah gets personal. She tells of how she was inspired to learn music by her mother who played guitar for her and she took up piano at the age of three.
Originally from the US, Sarah moved to Cornwall in 2007 which kicked off her musical development. She met Zoe Pollock who inspired her to see herself as a songwriter and through her was introduced to Martin Stansbury who would go on to become her manager and engineer, helping her with the business side of music.
Her music has an eerie, ancient quality to it and bursts with love and tenderness, making St Buryans Church the ideal setting for the album she is touring across the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and the USA.
Sarah is a versatile musician and plays several different instruments. Fans have been known to come up to her after shows to tell her how much she lifted their mood.
You can experience Sarah’s music in York’s Hemsley Arts Centre on Friday, 20 May.
‘The St Buryan Sessions’ is now available here. Items include a blue vinyl double LP, together with T-shirts, tea towels, tote bags, ultra-limited-edition test pressings, and the full concert film on a 16GB engraved wooden USB stick, all bearing Sarah’s original artwork.