Nashville-based Country singer-songwriter Sarah Darling spoke to Lisa Redford about her upcoming UK tour, her favourite artists and vocal routines.
It’s an exciting time for singer-songwriter Sarah Darling, who kicked off her biggest UK headline tour this week with a performance at London’s prestigious Union Chapel. Her show features songs from her three albums including last year’s acclaimed Dream Country, a sublime and understated blend of heartfelt country, Americana, jazz and pop.
Darling possesses an effortlessly pure, crystal clear voice. Having seen her perform live as part of last year’s A Night in Nashville tour, I know audiences are in for stunning shows. Darling’s new single Wasted has just been released.
iSing: How excited are you to be back performing in the UK for your biggest headline tour?
Sarah Darling: I’m so excited! What a treat to give my UK fans that full-on band experience on tour. Nobody’s really heard Dream Country in a full band setting. I have this excitement that in three years I’ve gotten to a place where I can do a headline tour.
iSing: What do you think of the UK’s flourishing country music scene?
SD: It’s been like wildfire, really growing. I’m blown away by the UK country talent. I’ve supported both Ward Thomas and The Shires. As a person in Nashville I love harmonies and they’re incredible. I’m a new fan of The Wandering Hearts, they’re fantastic. That’s the beauty of country music – it’s beautiful, honest.
iSing: What can you tell us about your new recordings and working with producer Mark Bright?
SD: I loved working with Mark. I was looking for a direction, trying to figure out what to do next and getting the chance to work with him – he’s worked with Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire – was really amazing.
He produced the tracks to my voice and my sound. I’ve had experiences where people would overly produce something. He just has an amazing ear and lets the track have space. I think that’s a big thing for me and you kinda have to have that for my style of music – you leave room for the nuance and the lyric and don’t overdo it. That’s the sign of a good producer so it was a really incredible experience. Right now, I’m writing for the rest of the record so I’m planning on releasing something, a full project, late summer/early fall.
iSing: Who are your favourite singers? Who inspires you?
SD: I love amazing vocalists. I am a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan. She is just incredible. Alison Krauss is just impeccable, such a pure tone – I’m always attracted to those.
iSing: How do you choose the songs you want to cover? I know that you’ve performed tracks by Coldplay and you recently did an emotional cover of Joni Mitchell’s River.
SD: It’s funny you mentioned Coldplay because I am probably one of their biggest fans. I would probably have a freak out if I met Chris Martin! I just simply love that their music brings so much light and positivity to me. I tend to sing a lot of their music. Also Stevie Nicks, I’m a big fan of Fleetwood Mac.
I think for me when I’m picking a cover, it has to be a song and a style that I connect with. Whenever I do a cover it’s thought out, like a song I would’ve written but done in my own way.
iSing: You also covered Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths. That must have been another song that you connected with?
SD: The lyrics to that song – I think that was what really got me. As a musician I just felt everything of “please, please, please let me get what I want” – this is so my life right now!
iSing: What are your vocal techniques? Do you have a warm up routine?
SD: I think of my voice as a muscle, it’s part of me and I protect it. I think because my style is a little bit more pure sounding, I tend to have do’s and don’ts.
I do warm ups every day, probably about 10 minutes of rolls and warm ups that I have learned over the years that are very good for loosening everything up. Drinking lots of water is a big thing for me.
The don’t is never go out to a loud place where you’re talking too loud. I find that’s when my voice gets really raspy. I look at it like this is part of you and you have to take care of it like anything else.
iSing: How do you take care of your voice on the road?
SD: I take a supplement called tumeric every day and I’m a big believer in it. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory. When you over-use your voice and you’re on tour, it tends to keep everything really chilled and uninflamed, which I think is important.
I carry a few things with me everywhere I go in case, oregano oil and tumeric. I don’t tend to use a lot of sprays on my voice, just water. Pineapple juice is quite soothing for your voice, as long as it’s real pineapple juice.
iSing: Thanks Sarah. Really looking forward to seeing you on your UK tour!
You can listen to Sarah Darling’s new single here. Wasted
Sarah Darling’s UK Tour Dates March 2018
10 March Unitarian Church, Brighton
12 March Òran Mór, Glasgow
13 March The Sage 2, Gateshead
15 March The Waterfront Studio, Norwich
17 March Unitarian Church, Cambridge
19 March The Basement, York
20 March Night and Day, Manchester
22 March The Belfast Empire Music Hall, Belfast
23 March The Grand Social, Lower Liffey Street, 07, Dublin
25 March Studio 2, Liverpool
27 March The Lantern, Colston Hall Bristol