Sara Beck working on new, “stripped-down” record; to open for Kevin Costner and Modern West at the Exit/In on April 14

by Dave Carew

I’ve said many times that Sara Beck is—for my money—one of the most supremely gifted singer-songwriters in the country—and still ridiculously under-appreciated.  Sara’s 2011 album Technicolor was one of that year’s very best pop albums by ANYONE, and she’s now working hard on a “stripped-down” new project that I, for one, can’t wait to hear.

Underground Nashville recently reached out to Sara to get an update on her forthcoming new record and on the creative process involved in its making. Here is our exclusive interview:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  After creating two highly produced, R&B-flavored albums (2009’s Music for Lovers and Fighters and 2011’s Technicolor), you’re now working on a stripped-down album.  Why was this more minimalist sound interesting for you to explore as a writer and artist?

SARA BECK: Well, last year I opened about 30 shows for Kevin Costner and Modern West solo acoustic, and it rekindled my love for performing that way. There’s so much freedom when you’re the only one onstage, and I wanted to bring some of that freedom into the studio. I also believe that if the lyrics and melody of a song are truly great, it doesn’t need much in the way of production, so I’ve challenged myself to make an album of only great songs. We’ll see!

UN:  As a songwriter, what specific challenges do you face when creating stripped-down music that you don’t necessarily face when writing for a full band?

SB:I don’t really think of it in terms of writing for one or the other. It’s more that I think certain songs really lend themselves to a more stark presentation. But certainly dynamics are a different ballgame when you are only dealing with a couple of instruments and a voice. The recording process becomes less about layering and more about getting a single emotional performance. And the pacing is a little different; I want this music to invite people to settle in for 45 minutes, which is very different from the goal of a three-minute pop tune.

UN:  Does your forthcoming record have a working (or set) title yet? If so, how does that title connect with the artistic direction you’ll be taking with the album? 

SB:  There is a tune I’m recording for the project called “A Simple Thing,” which has become the working title and the mantra!

UN:  Is there anything else you’d like to convey to friends and fans, in terms of where you find yourself as an artist now . . . and why?

SB:  I’m excited! Life is good. Change is in the air. I feel so fortunate to have people interested in following my musical journey. It’s a gift, and I try not to take it for granted.

For more about Sara Beck, visit SaraBeck.net.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

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