Album Review: Sarah Jarosz, ‘Polaroid Lovers’

On her seventh studio album, Polaroid Lovers, Sarah Jarosz captures little portraits of life and love. Like a good photographer, she knows how to capture the shadows and light of a scene, bringing sometimes-hidden features into relief and focusing on life at the edges and at the center.

Cascading piano notes create a sonic undercurrent on the album opener, “Jealous Moon,” a propulsive folk rock ode to regret about misunderstandings in relationships as well as a defiant celebration of the acceptance of the future. The song’s a snapshot of the insights to which we are often blind in the moment and the sure-sightedness we gain through hindsight. The cantering rhythms of “When the Lights Go Out” transport lovers as they discover where the edges of their own identities end and the points at which they “fade into each other.” Lines from the first verse provide the album’s title—“In a dream we were Polaroid lovers/In the deep where the edges don’t lie”—as the singer wonders aloud whether her lover’s identity remains constant, or inconstant, when he doesn’t need to put on a display for her (“Who are you when the lights go out”).

The electrifying “Runaway Train” opens with a riff reminiscent of the opening riffs of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “I’ll Take My Chances”; the dazzling choruses of guitar chords and lead runs provides the perfect accompaniment to Jarosz’s soulful vocals. The bright rhythms and tone of “The Way It Is” offer a lilting glimpse into the often bittersweet nature of acceptance, while the country folk rocker “Dying Ember” makes a plea to keep the fire of love burning.

Gentle waves of acoustic guitar finger-picking provides lush sonic layers for Jarosz’s tender, crystalline vocals on the nostalgic “Columbus & 89th,” a snapshot of her affection for the years she lived in New York City. The jazz shuffle “Days Can Turn Around” collects the sayings a parent passes onto their child—”Sometimes you’re up sometimes you’re down/Sometimes your heart’s in the lost and found/Your mind’s in the clouds but you’re stuck on the ground/And when you least expect it/Days can turn around.”

Polaroid Lovers showcases Jarosz’s warm, dazzling vocals, her virtuosic songwriting, and her ability to capture the sorrow, regret, joy, and hope that continually jostle the human heart.


Polaroid Lovers is available HERE


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