Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Two years ago today I released "Someday, Someday" my fourth studio record.  I smiled tonight when I realized this anniversary and wanted to celebrate by sharing with you a few of my favorite moments of making this album. I am sure that I will create more albums through the years, but this one was special for me.

* THE STUDIO AND THE MAN. This is the third record I have made at June Audio with Scott Wiley producing and engineering. June Audio is just a beautiful space to make music; the walls are lined with incredible guitars, pianos of every size,  vintage amps and pedals, rare microphones and just a great vibe. Scott could spend his time boasting about working with artists like Ryan Adams and Bonnie Raitt and Neon Trees, but instead he takes a quiet pride in making quality records in a beautiful space.  He is one of the most talented people I have met in this line of work and is so good at what he does. I love the three records we have made together. He has been so generous to me over the years and I am ever grateful to have someone of his talent stand by my me and my music.

* THE SONGS. The ten songs we ended up choosing to be on the record are some of my best work. Each song landed in a different way. Calling Your Name came very quickly one night, almost laid out finished in my mind. I loved how the form of this song feels like a very traditional folk song. Others like "Shadows Of A Song" took months of editing and reworking and even enlisting my friend Paul Jacobsen to help me finish it. Paul's work as a songwriter blows me away again and again. When writing songs, I sometimes think to myself "would this lyric make the cut if Paul was writing it?" He co-wrote Shadows, Every Time I Go, and I'm Ready, not bad Jacobsen, not bad. I started writing "Every Time I Go" in Lyons Colorado during my favorite week of Song School. I had written "Every time I go, I give my heart to you..." and was stuck, Paul then suggested I sing "Every time I go, I give my heart to you, to keep you from the cold.." which is one of my favorite lyrics in any of these songs. I wrote this song for my daughter with the idea that distance cannot stop a mother's love.  "Don't Bury Me" was inspired in part by my Grandpa Price who ran his family farm and was tied to his land in a way that prevented him from ever leaving it and part by a moment I had watching the ships come in and out of a bay in Galloway Scotland. I love the way we produced "Don't Bury Me." New love on "Texas" and not giving up on true love in "One Mistake" are two of the quieter numbers. When I sang on "Be My Middle Ground" I always imagined Bonnie Raitt's voice on it. And finishing "Staying Behind" was a pretty big therapeutic break through for me, took me years to write that song.

*THE HARMONIES. Wow can this group of people sing! Good gracious I was just blown away by the harmonies sung from this group.  It is pretty rare to find musicians who can nail a harmony after only listening to a song a few times. My favorite harmonic moments of this record are on:
Every Time I Go-- Paul came up with the echo 'to keep' on the chorus which I still smile at when I hear it. When Ryan sing "In my arms" on the bridge. The harmonies of this chorus just nail it--thank you Ryan, Paul, and Mai.
Shadows of a Song-- Dustin Christensen sang this one with me and just slayed it. SLAYED IT. I think he heard this song twice through before he started singing along. Every take he did something different, and every time it was something brilliant. His harmonies on the second verse are my favorite.
Staying Behind--if you watch the short documentary at the bottom you will see Paul, Ryan, Dustin, and Mai all working out their parts in the warehouse. Each chose different lines to sing on and I was floored watching them all find their place.
Be My Middle Ground---Miss Mai just swooped into this chorus beautifully. I love the parts she hears. I am sure it could be due to years of singing in Raining Jane or being trained in cello and guitar...but man can she sing.
Calling Your Name--Paul's voice and all it's raspy goodness shows up in this song. I love that it is a duet. Reminds me of when we sang this song.
I'm Ready-- This song has such a sing-a-long chorus. I love feeling the group behind me.

*THE BAND. Pat Campbell slaying my heart on drums. Brian Hardy making the ivories sing, and organs, and glock, and bells. Mai with the graceful cello and angelic voice. Dyan Schorer melting me with electric guitars and pedal steel. Scott Wiley puts the edge in electric (I love that intro on Staying Behind) on guitar and bass. Paul Jacobsen, Ryan Tanner, & Dustin Christensen killing it on vocal harmonies, guitars, banjos, pianos, and ideas. Tilby the wizard playing anything with strings, do I remember a bass mando or uke??? And even a guest appearance of George Brunt on bass--so hip. The truth is that I have been making music with this group of friends for the last decade and I have loved every show, every recording session, every co-write. Thank you dear ones.

*MAI BLOOMFIELD. She was the only other woman besides myself working on this album and I think she brought such a down-to-earth richness to our creative soil. She was relentlessly positive. Recording live can be stressful at moments because you just don't have the time to sit and rehearse---this is where Mai really shined. She held her own and showed up in tune and glowing over and over. 

*THE ARTWORK. Ryan Tanner took film photos for the album cover and website, and designed the album artwork. I remember him sending me a few different options for the Cover art. When he sent me the above photo, it was clear to me we had the one. The photo felt honest and vulnerable and it was all me. I know I will always love the artwork for this project, it will never seem out of date to me because he captured something special that day. And in a time when everything is turning to digital, I still love holding a physical album in my hands.

*LIVE RECORDING. This was a live record, we recorded the whole shebang in a matter of days. What you hear, really happened in that moment! I gathered my dearest friends around me and we went to work. I hired the talented Jed Wells to make a documentary of the project.  I wanted not only the physical reminder of an album, but the visual reminder of the community that came together to create it. I also had the sentimental motive lodged in my heart that wanted to document this process to show my children when I grow old, something they could watch and know how real and meaningful making albums was to me. Here is that video, I hope you take a few minutes to remember the journey of it with me.

Thank you for showing up for me and the music. If you know this album, I would love to hear what your favorite parts are below in the comments. 


PS: To hold you over till a new record is is a new song you can download for free, click here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Welcome Baby Maeve!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for dropping by, I have a very special someone I would like you to meet. Maeve, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Maeve.

Maeve Eleanor McDonald was born on Easter Sunday. Her name Maeve rhymes with 'brave,' and brave she was on her birthday. Maeve is an old Irish name, a reference to a legendary ancient Irish queen, and means "she who intoxicates." She is living up to her name because I feel like I am with royalty when she rests in my arms, and truly like Joni Mitchell sings

"Oh you're in my blood like holy wine..
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet"

I also would like to raise my glass to the doctors, nurses, & midwives of the world. To the technology and medications we have available that are intended to help and relieve.
Below is a photo of Henry Ghent, he is my great great great grandfather and was a civil war surgeon and continued to practice medicine all his adult life. Can you imagine being a surgeon during the civil war? I cannot, and I cannot imagine the conditions of infection and pain that people had to endure. I do know that it would take courage to be a doctor or patient during this time.

I most likely would have lost both my children during childbirth if I had lived during his lifetime. My first daughter was born via emergency c-section after 23 hours of labor and complications. And little Maeve had her cord wrapped several times around her body and neck and as labor progressed her heart rate dropped suddenly and could not be restored. The technology of a heart monitor told us this and allowed the Doctor enough information to know that she needed to be delivered immediately. Not only did his team of assistants rush in within seconds, but a staff of pediatricians were waiting for Maeve to help her if needed. I have to say that as a mother, those 5 minutes were some of worst I have experienced, when it is clear that something is wrong and it is unclear what the outcome will be for your unborn child. But out she came and although a slow rocky start, her eventual small cry was the most glorious sound I've ever heard!

Recovering from this delivery has had several complications that I did not expect, and yet I have felt again and again how grateful I am to live in this day. To have doctors that know how to treat every problem that I have encountered. To live in a generation where we can have antibiotics and medications at the convenience of a pharmacy down the block. I have felt very taken care of, not just by those in medical field, but by my family and friends. Even those I don't know well have cared enough to reach out with their 'congratulations.' So thank you thank you thank you. A new baby is a miracle. I am overwhelmed with love every time I look at this little one. She is quite amazing. Someone commented that I have found my new muse.... quite true. I am interested to see what songs she brings with her....


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Warning: I am about to talk about babies and show photos of my nursery. This post contains nothing about music or a rockstar lifestyle. If you dare, read on...

Hey Friends,

I find myself at the end of this pregnancy ready and waiting to have this baby.
It is the last few weeks and I know she could come anytime, therefore I have
done the smart thing which is to anticipate her arrival with great intensity,
only to experience a severe let down every day that passes that she does not decide
to make her grand entrance.
I have been googling "signs of labor" terms that all have horrible names that I won't go into here in case there are sensitive readers reading (ie. women who might be interested in birthing a child someday and these references might scare you away)....

Let me just say that on the 'list of possible symptoms of pregnancy' NONE are flattering
and some just painful. BUT on the bright side, I love small cute clothes and I
am stocking up for this little one. I also have loved putting together her nursery.
I decided to sew all the crib bedding this time around which allowed me to pick the
fabric I loved and kept me busy from dwelling too much on all the 'pregnancy symptoms'
I was acquiring rapidly. I know this post is mostly for my mom...but enjoy.

Also, let's play one last game: GUESS WHEN THIS BABY WILL BE BORN!
Leave your guess in the comments and I will send the
winner all of my albums.

The Nursery: sarah sample style
note: I still am acquiring the artwork, so forgive the bare walls

Thanks for reading. Hope you are enjoying sleeping without a snoogle....


Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

I have heard the lists starting around me
the 'I will lose weight, stop smoking, learn french
run a marathon, start obeying speed limits'
(ok. I've never heard someone say they want to
drive slower except my dad, but you get the point)

I found myself a few nights ago sleepless
and filled with a sense of anxiety over how this
new year is going to look. How is the birth of my new
baby going to go? How much time should I take off?
How will June do with another little person taking
all my time? Will my music career sink into the depths of despair?
How am I going to pay off loans? What if I died tomorrow?
I need to be writing more songs. How should I fund my next
album? How can I be a better mother or friend or wife....
Pretty much a non-stop mental chatter of concerns
that I could hardly control or figure out at 2am.

When I was pregnant with June I went to a birthing
class led by a wonderful mid-wife from South Africa.
She introduced the idea of creating a 'birth plan' that consisted
of what I wanted the birth to look like and a set of
instructions or intentions for those around me to help
me meet that ideal. Now, she also said that no matter what, it is most
important to be flexible with your ideas of birth because most
likely it will not all go as planned. That was true. My experience
birthing June was nothing like I planned or wanted.
But as I have been thinking on how I would
like this next birth to go, my previous lengthy list has distilled
to one thing:
I want to be present.

Forgive my pregnancy analogies, but when I could not sleep
the other night due to mounting anxieties, I had the thought
come to me that I just needed to 'be still, be present' this year and it would
all be ok. My birthing intention could extend for the whole year.
It won't look exactly how I plan or want all the time, but if I am
present in the moment and open to the beauty around me it will
be more than alright. I spent my New Years Eve in Zion. It was quiet
and beautiful and still. So I think I am on the right track, at least
2 days into 2012.

Anyone who knows me, knows that one of my favorite
songwriters is Patty Griffin. Her song "Nobody's
Crying" seems to have hit a chord in my heart thinking of
all these things... Enjoy. Happy New Year Friends, know
that I wish you well....


"...But darling, I wish you well
On your way to the wishing well
Swinging off those gates of hell
And I can tell how hard you're trying
And just have our secret hope
Sometimes all we do is cope
Somewhere on the steepest slope
There'll be an endless rope
And nobody's crying

May you dream you are sleepin', in a warm soft bed
And may the voices inside you that fill you with dread
Turn the sound of thousands of angels instead
Tonight where you might be laying your head"