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Sarah Siskind – Modern Appalachia

We review Sarah Siskind

Sarah Siskind – Photo: LTTL

By Rob Dickens

Sarah Siskind

Modern Appalachia

17 April 2020

I am reminded of Lucinda Williams, guesting with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings guitarist Colin Linden, proclaiming to the crowd at the end of the set: “He should be more well-known!”

Well, add Sarah Siskind to the should-be-more-well-known coterie. Not that you could call her prolific, though. Her complete discography is a little hard for this author to pin down – I count three full albums between 2002 and 2011 and a few EPs and limited releases.

So Modern Appalachia is a welcome and highly-anticipated release, nine years after 2011’s Novel. It also marks her first major record since moving back to her native North Carolina from Nashville almost five years ago. Her move to Nashville provided significant songwriting success as her songs were covered by Alison Krauss, Randy Travis, Wynonna and others.  Her music was also heavily featured on Nashville, as well as on other TV series.  Moving away from the Music City machine was based on the desire for a “simpler life” and led ultimately to more self-reflection. The benefits of the move and Siskind’s love for the Appalachian region shine through here on this twelve-track vivid odyssey.

The core of the band are Daniel Kimbro, Mike Seal and Jeff Sipe, with guests the legendary guitarist Bill Frisell and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon

The combination of her rhythm electric guitar and her striking and remarkable voice sometimes, to these ears, echo the great Joni Mitchell (eg “Carolina”). The slow, soaring “In The Mountains” (see below), the stepping pattern of “Carolina” and the loving references to people in “Modern Appalachia” all point to the beauty of her surroundings. Two songs she has recorded before – “Punk Rock Girl” and the gorgeous “Porchlight” have found their best setting on Modern Appalachia. From the latter:

“Wishing it was different doesn’t really change a thing / Push it to the limit or don’t do anything.”

The echoes of resilience in the closing “I Won’t Stop” (with vocal support from Rose Cousins) is a perfect conclusion to Sarah Siskind’s long-awaited and triumphant new outing.

And, yes, she SHOULD be more well-known.

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We review Sarah Siskind

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Author: Rob Dickens

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