Review by Tempestas Ink
One of the greatest traits of the Americana and the acoustic folk genres is their unparalleled ability to genuinely comfort the listener, and to make him feel at home in ways that few other things can. Even to non-Americans such as myself, the songs encompassed by the said genres transport me to an altogether different world – one that is full of warmth and breeze; and I certainly am neither the first nor the last to feel so. And one is likely to feel the same upon listening to Sara Rodenburg’s endearing offering, titled ‘Grace and Fortitude’.
Written about her late mother (the words ‘Grace and Fortitude’ were from her mother’s note to her that she received on her first day of grade school), the song clicks right away with the intimate-sounding acoustic guitars strummed by Rodenburg herself, with apt counterpointing provided by the pedal steel which gels harmonically pristinely with Rodenburg’s warm and easy-going vocals, which are a class apart in its own right.
The low notes are flawlessly delivered, and with clarity, and there is the aforementioned warmth and breeziness aplenty in store from the vocals, in the backing harmonies as much as in the top line. And when the song is about one’s mother, the approach in lyric writing needs to be not just immaculate but also personal enough for the listener to bond with, while exhibiting a relaxed and serene vibe. And that is wonderfully accomplished by Sara Rodenburg. The line “Came into my room/heart, told me I was good, Washed away my tears” in the chorus, aided by her own backing vocals, pulls the heartstrings. It complements the lyrics in the verse which are about the unconditional love and peace one receives from one’s mother. And from the second verse onwards, we hear flashes of Jenny Lewis, aided by the entry of the drums and percussion. The arrangement and instrumentation deserve praise for the subtle variations and improvisation provided in tandem with the vocals, including at the final verse where one can feel the calm before one last outburst of sunshine in the final rendition of the chorus.
On the whole, ‘Grace and Fortitude’ is genuinely heartfelt, and with every word rendered beautifully. One wouldn’t be surprised if you felt the urge to hug your mother, as I felt, after listening to this delightfully winsome number.
Sara Rodenburg Sara is an American Singer-Songwriter with Midwestern roots, currently based in the Bay Area. She performs original, acoustic folk-rock- Americana, singing and playing guitar. Sara is the youngest of eight, in a family of musicians.
With Mom's influence as a piano teacher, Brahms and Britten on the airwaves, David Byrne, Liz Phair, and John Prine on the radio, and siblings that knew and shared songs on the guitar, it was natural that Sara would pick one up and begin to write and sing, herself.
Sara’s soulful songs are born out of the south side of Chicago and are textured with inspiration, grit, and the warm California Sun. Melodic phrasings of love, journey, and joyful spirit are at the heart of Sara’s songs. Influenced by female artists like Gillian Welch, Jenny Lewis, and Emmylou Harris, Sara has vocal style has been compared to Joni Mitchell, Jewel, and Iris Dement. Sara began her California journey in 1998 and began her career as a solo artist after having earned her Master's degree in Social Work. Sara has been living in the Bay area since 2011 and has performed at multiple well-known venues including the Golden Gate Park Bandshell, Bazaar Cafe, and hotel Utah in San Francisco, Napa City Winery, Blue Note, as well as local festivals, San Francisco and Napa Porchfests and BottleRock 2014. Sara continues to record new music born from the genuine, honest expression of life's way and has single coming out on April 7th called "Around the Sun". Sara's most recent EP “Songs for Under Skies” is available on Spotify, CD Baby, and iTunes.
For more information on Sara, please visit her website!