It's obvious from the title track of Sarah Siskind's new album, Say It Louder, that a goal for her life and songwriting is potent, from-the-gut expression: "If I had the chance to say it again, I'd say it louder." But the Nashville singer and songwriter needn't aspire to make an enduring impact on the ears. She's got a good handle on that already.
The bold melodies, strong vocal performances and emotional depth on Siskind's sixth release capture her musical vision more clearly than anything she's done to date. And that's saying something, considering how highly respected she already is across acoustic, pop and rock music fields, in Nashville and beyond. Top-tier singers and rising talent across the country, including Alison Krauss and Union Station, Randy Travis, the Infamous Stringdusters and April Verch-have recorded her songs. Two of Siskind's compositions-"Goodbye Is All We Have" and "Simple Love"-have been hit singles for Krauss, the latter even leading to a GRAMMY nomination.
Siskind's electric live band, featured on Say it Louder, is known for putting on a formidable alt. rock show, but she's also a sought-out solo performer. Bon Iver was so taken with her song "Lovin's For Fools" that the popular indie-rock act closed most of their shows with the song on their 2008 tour. Due to the overwhelming fan response to the song, they invited her on a recent European tour. Ireland's legendary artist, Paul Brady, invited her to join him on-stage for a premier collaboration in New York City in 2008 and had her contribute backing vocals on his new album.
On Say It Louder, Siskind has found new ways to unite her varied musical strengths. There are penetrating Appalachian melodies-the outgrowth of a youth spent traveling with her bluegrass-playing parents to festivals all over North Carolina-and deeply confessional, poetic lyric-writing that lends the songs a distinctly modern tint. Then there's the blues flavor of Siskind's plunging vocal lines, which she attacks with a clear, resonant alto that can't be mistaken for anyone else's. The whole 13-song set has a cohesive, full-bodied sound, easily fusing folk and rock, anchored by Sarah's mid-70's Gibson ES-175 named "Larry".
Siskind stoked the album's fire with songs that narrate a journey through difficult trials, ultimately arriving at a renewed embrace of life. "It's probably the most focused album I've ever made, as far as all the songs really tying together," Siskind reflects. "There is a real sense of rebirth. Each song is a different little corner of my life, of what I've been through in the last several years."