Spanish born, American raised and now living in Cornwall, singer songwriter Sarah McQuaid is shortly releasing the St. Buryan Sessions, a live album (without audience) recorded in her local church. Coming in response to the pandemic, when live music was no longer possible, Sarah crowdfunded the solo recording that showcases songs from her career, with the addition of two previously unrecorded covers, ‘Autumn Leaves‘ and ‘Rabbit Hills‘.
Full of beautiful songs, the album comes into its own with ‘The Last Song‘, an ode to childhood and Sarah’s mother. Sarah says
“It’s a really special song for me, It’s been in my live set forever and always gets a really strong reaction — I see people crying, and then a lot of the time I wind up crying, too! Which is why I tend to save it for the encore, so it doesn’t matter if my mascara starts running. I wrote it back when I was still living in Ireland and my kids were toddlers — I used to try and fit in some guitar practice and get them to sleep at the same time by sitting and playing outside their room after I put them to bed, and it took me right back to when I was little and my mother used to do the same thing. I have such a clear memory of lying in bed, looking at the ribbon of light shining through the door and calling out requests for songs I wanted to hear. She’d answer “Are you still awake? Go to sleep!” And one night I heard myself saying exactly the same thing to my kids, and it was like my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth. And I wanted so much to be able to call her up and tell her about it, but of course I couldn’t, because she died just six months after my first child was born. They’re teenagers now, and it breaks my heart that she never got to know them and they never got to know her.”
Sarah is blessed with wonderfully clear diction and the love and sorrow behind the words sung in this song bring a huge amount of emotion to the fore; as a mother whose father died not long after my son was born, I’m not surprised ‘The Last Song’ makers Sarah cry on stage. The emotion felt in this song is felt throughout the album and helps make her distinctively velvet voice sound even warmer, kind of a rich furry blanket.
Other highlights on the album include ‘Charlie’s Gone Home‘, from her 1997 debut album When Two Lovers Meet, as well as fan favourites ‘In Derby Cathedral‘, ‘The Sun Goes On Rising‘ and ‘Yellowstone‘.
Additionally, Sarah has recorded two previously unrecorded covers, the classic jazz standard ‘Autumn Leaves’, on which she demonstrates the full dynamic range of her lush, distinctive voice, and ‘Rabbit Hills’, written by her friend (and past producer) Michael Chapman. Commissioned by Michael’s wife as a gift for his 80th birthday Sarah sits at the beautiful grand piano that resides in the church, and results in a compelling, heartfelt delivery.
In all these songs, Sarah’s gift for storytelling comes to the fore and the live, solo setting is the perfect setting in which to have these songs forever.
Sarah’s advice for aspiring musicians is practical yet gets to the nub of why you want to be a musician in the first place:
“Don’t make the music you think your audience wants to hear. Make the music you want to make. If there’s an audience out there for you, they’ll find you eventually! Just keep doing what your heart tells you to do and keep putting it out there.”
The St Buryan Sessions is released on 15 October. Get your copy here.
Catch Sarah ON TOUR through to November. Or if you can’t make it, follow her at: