Sarah Jarosz Performs “Columbus & 89that The Fine Line Music Cafe. Photo by Casey Carlson

Nestled within the heart of Minneapolis, The Fine Line Music Cafe has a knack for quietly hosting some of the most talented musicians on the road today. My experiences there have consistently unveiled acts that, in their brilliance, seem almost too grand for the intimate confines of the venue. So it’s no wonder that Sarah Jarosz, a 4x grammy award winner (and 10x nominee) found herself on that stage tonight, once again adding herself to a list of musicians whose performance at the Fine Line is likely to be considered one of the more intimate shows we’ll experience before they take on a much larger room.

Sarah Jarosz’s visits up north are as rare as they are cherished. A delve into touring stats reveals tonight as her first Minnesota performance, perhaps sans a performance or two at Chris Thile’s “Live From Here” broadcasts at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theatre, before the group moved to NYC. You could tell by her smiles in between songs that she was appreciative of the sold out crowd here just as much as we were appreciative of her finally swinging through town.

Touring In the wake of her latest album release, “Polaroid Lovers,” Jarosz ventures into what some might hastily label a ‘departure’ from her acoustically intimate roots. Yet, “Polaroid Lovers”, her seventh LP, is more of an evolution. Words like ‘departure’, and ‘going electric’ have been scary words for fans of acoustic-focused artists in the past, But in Sarah Jarosz’s case – she does it right. The album’s sound allows the band to explore new territory, particularly on tracks like the rockin, ambient, “Jealous Moon” and the country radio friendly “Runaway Train” – without straying from the essence that fans have come to adore. These songs, vibrant and full-bodied, even hint at following the modern trend of americana and bluegrass music of being a bit jammy at times, allowing Jarosz and her band to stretch their musical legs. It’s an album that fits nicely within her repertoire just as much now as it will years from now.

Jarosz’s delight was noticeable as she complimented the audience singing back the lyrics of “Dying Ember” – a rare phenomenon for artists, especially being that “Polaroid Lovers” is less than a month old. “It’s fun to see you guys singing along to the lyrics of the new songs!” she remarked with a grin. This quick embrace by her fans of “Polaroid Lovers” speaks volumes of their loyalty and her artistry. While the new album was a big focus for the night, Jarosz ensured a dive into her rich catalog, balancing the new with beloved classics and a sprinkle of cover songs, each chosen with care and delivered with a unique charm.

From the soulful plucking of her banjo on “Annabelle Lee” to the tender rendition of Paul Simon’s “Kathy’s Song” on her unique octave mandolin, Jarosz showcased her versatile artistry. Her dancy cover of “Timber, I’m Falling in Love” by Patty Loveless added a playful twist to the evening, fittingly nodding to Valentine’s Day, and she encored with a poignant homage to Bob Dylan with “Ring Them Bells.”

However, amidst the array of talent and instruments, it was Jarosz’s voice that held us completely spellbound, and something fans were finally treated to hearing in a live setting. From the opening note, a hush fell, her vocals a beacon of warmth in the snowy night. It’s also what makes Sarah such a great part of her collaboration with Aoife O’donovan and Sarah Watkins when they perform together for the all female acoustic trio “I’m With Her”. It’s this voice that stands at the core of her collaborations and solo ventures alike, drawing us in, urging us to hold each other a little closer in the coziness of the moment.

As the crowd applauded and funneled out into the night, the hope lingers that this sold-out night at The Fine Line is the start to many more returns, a promise of future nights filled with the enchanting melodies of Sarah Jarosz.

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