Jesse Terry & Sarah Darling

Jesse Terry

On the eponymous title track of Stargazer, the lushly orchestrated and existentially optimistic fourth LP from singer/songwriter Jesse Terry, the notion of personal unhappiness is framed in terms of a cosmic choice: “Go on stargazer, I know how much it hurts / But you are free now to pick your universe.” In a period of American life considered the most divisive and tribalistic in modern memory, the notion of hopefulness may feel misplaced to some. For Terry, though, it’s a byproduct of his own life experience. “I think I will always be innately hopeful, because I’ve seen how much life can change,” he says. “And the road I’ve traveled on my journey has shown me how much people can change, if they open up and allow themselves to do so.”

Stargazer is very much an album representing the arc of that journey and is precisely the kind of record we need in these seemingly hopeless times. Forged in the crucible of the artist’s earnest engagement with a chaotic, confusing world, the record is wonderfully difficult to classify. Drawing inspiration from a diverse pool of influences — from vintage Jeff Lynne-produced pop to the Roy Orbison of “In Dreams” to The Man Who-era Travis — Stargazer is an album commensurate with its moment, imbued with an unconquerably sunny perspective. “I will always go back to hope and lean on that, because that’s what has gotten me here in the first place,” Terry says.

Produced with multi-instrumentalist collaborator Josh Kaler in Nashville’s sumptuous EastSide Manor Studios, every aspect of the album went through an intentionally rigorous evaluative process. “Josh and I worked in the studio for months, making sure that we were bringing something fresh to every track, some kind of new sound or new harmony line or new string line,” Terry says. “I wanted Stargazer to be arranged and produced like the records I first fell in love with.” A significant part of that production process involved strings and renowned arranger Danny Mitchell. “I’ve worked with great string players in the past, but this is the first album where I’ve had the strings professionally arranged for a quartet,” Terry says. The inherent magic, power, and emotion in Mitchell’s arrangements are palpable throughout the record. “I wrote many of these songs with the strings in mind, knowing that they’d be taking my songs to new places.”

One need only listen to the soaring chorus of track “Woken the Wildflowers” to understand what Terry means. Begun while on holiday in New Zealand with his kiwi wife in the wake of the 2017 Women’s March, the song is a tribute to the renewal of American ideals made manifest that day. “Those are the American values that we read about in grade school – equality, justice, decency, freedom, truth – and I loved seeing millions of people across the world standing up for those beliefs,” Terry says. “I wanted to honor that in song.” Undergirding the chorus’ gentle call to “Wake up, wake up, wake up,” the strings swell with the possibility of regeneration felt across the world that day.

Stargazer is notable, too, for the diversity of its sonic palette. Terry is as adept at cross-pollinating spacey rockabilly with power pop (“Dance in Our Old Shoes”) as he is at writing dreamy, Beatles-esque ballads about a loved one’s toxic personality (“Kaleidoscope”); as comfortable at the helm of a charging, Springsteen-down-South ode to the new Nashville (“Runaway Town”) as he is singing a heartbreakingly tender lullaby to a European capital (“Dear Amsterdam”). “People, myself included, are always trying to categorize music into specific genres and I really wanted to avoid thinking that way while making this record,” he says. “In fact, the term ‘genre-less’ became a bit of a mantra for me as I was writing and recording Stargazer.”

The result is a record representing a clarity of vision and a creative pinnacle that, for Terry, has been a career in the making. The countless hours logged on the road and in the studio, he says, have primed him for this moment. “I’ve loved the slow and steady arc my career has taken, the places around the world it’s taken me and the people it’s put in my path,” he says. “Two years ago, even a year ago, I wasn’t ready to make this album.”

He remains anchored to the raw wonder he felt when first picked up his mother’s guitar all those years ago, to the period in his life when an optimist emerged from the black fog of early tribulations.

“Everything feels like it’s happening at the right time.”

Sarah Darling

Nashville singer-songwriter, Sarah Darling, will take you on a journey through aspirational, cinematic songs about stars, dreams, and romance as she makes her long-awaited entry to the UK with the albumDream Country. The term, Dream Country, was created by Darling to describe her smooth, escapist song writing style that crosses country, Americana, and traditional pop genres. Sarah's transatlantic debut is fuelled by years of experience as a songwriter and performer. She has released several tracks commercially, including her biggest hit, ͞Home to Me͟. She has performed 80+ times at the Grand Ole Opry, has over a million+ downloaded songs, and supported artists such as Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill and Tim McGraw. Following a long term record deal, Sarah set out to make a record that paints a picture of where she is artistically, professionally, and personally. Sarah͛s new songs reflect optimism, love and dreams in country style of songwriting that incorporates storytelling and imagery. ͞I͛m so grateful for the time I spent signed to the label. Over the years I wrote so many incredible songs, some of which the world has never got to hear. That͛s part of it, and it can be creatively stifling, because nobody knows what͛s inside of you but you. This has been an opportunity to make a record with everything I͛ve ever imagined from top to bottom. From Strings, songs about Paris, to recording at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville.͟Her life experiences have inspired the lyrics, with a sense of honesty and contentment. It reflects her relationship with James, the Englishman who is now her husband. ͞It's so funny how your writing subjects change in different seasons,͟ she laughs. ͞When I first started writing in Nashville, I got burned by a relationship, and all of my songs were about heartbreak. I͛ve been able to travel to some incredible places in the world and find inspiration in new ways. Now the music captures bigger ideas, letting people dream with me, which is what I love to write about most.͟͞'Montmartre' is one of my favourites on the album,͟ says Sarah, ͞The strings make this track absolutely come alive as though you are standing in a movie scene. My childhood dream was to go to Paris and James took me there on our first date. Montmartre felt like such a magical place, I had to capture that love affair with such a beautiful city in a song. Halley's Comet' is also a stand out, as I͛ve always considered myself a stargazer. 'Cowboy's Ride͛ reminds me of the music I grew up listening to. I call it my love letter to Wyoming and the country I love.͚͟You Take Me All The Way͛ is my first single off of the new record. It transports you to another place and feels so good to listen to. The lyrics are quite clever with a bit of cheekiness - My favourite word I͛ve picked up on since going to the UK - you can͛t get it out of your head, and a favourite to play live.͟Sarah's own upbringing was in the small town of Mitchellville, Iowa, where her dream of music was born. Her dad played the drums in a college band, and music was something she always had around her. Her favourite part of growing up in the wide open spaces was the big night sky as it drives a lot of her current inspiration. ͞There͛s something magical about growing up in a small town that makes you dream about the incredible and feel connected to something greater. That͛s why I love writing about stars.͟Darling moved to Nashville at 19, with the dream of stardom. ͞When I was a kid, I used to write poetry. I was always quite introverted. At that time, I didn't know how to put it together to write a song, but when I moved here, I picked up my first guitar, had my first heartbreak and all of a sudden it was like 'Ok, I'm going to put all of this to gether.' I guess I was always a songwriter at heart and became a healer. Music became an escape.͟Away from music, Darling has underlined her remarkable creative versatility by launching her own line of boots with partner Durango, and brought some of her Parisian memories back to Nashville with her French macaron company, Sweet Darling Patisserie. In September 2016, she returns to the UK to explore the positive momentum of her C2C visit earlier this year with a tour and the single release, ͚You Take Me All the Way.͛ Darling, alongside her song writing friends, Jenn Bostic and Kyshona Armstrong, join together for a unique musical ͚in the round͛ experience that spans two weeks across the
UK. Making Dream Country has been the most fulfilling musical experience yet for Darling. These songs bring a Sophistication, beauty, and honesty that͛s refreshing. It͛s romantic and dreamy.

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