Sarah Morris On New Album “Here’s To You” [INTERVIEW]
Sarah Morris’ fifth album of original material begins with an ending and ends with an introduction. In between, the songs eavesdrop on intimate conversations between partners, lovers, friends, and family.
Produced by multi-instrumentalist Dave Mehling, and featuring long-time bandmates Thomas Nordlund, Andrew Foreman, and Lars-Erik Larson, Here’s To You sees Morris explore a more lush, celestial flavor as she sheds some of the country swagger she’s known for.
With layers of harmonies and synths orbiting the terra firma of her band’s guitar, bass, and drums, Morris’ clarion voice shines brightly. Recorded over the course of 2022, Here’s To You offers songs for celebration, for remorse, for grief, for steadfast promises – raising a metaphorical glass to the moments that make us who we are.
Sarah Morris Interview:
Tell us a bit about your new album: Here’s To You.
Hi! Oh, I’m so excited to finally be sharing ‘Here’s To You’ with the world (or at least, anyone who wants to hear it!). It’s 9 songs that I’ve written over the last few years that each felt like a bit of an intimate conversation with another person. There are songs for celebrating, songs for grieving, songs for endings, songs for beginnings, songs for the messy middle. The album was produced by Dave Mehling, and features the stellar work of my long time band-mates – Thomas Nordlund, Andrew Foreman, Lars-Erik Larson.
What was your creative process/concept with this new album?
I am a superfan of producer Dave Mehling‘s 2021 album, Beach Boy. I appreciated the way he used space, and sound to tell a story. Dave can play just about anything, and knows his way around a synthesizer, so on his album I heard some really playful and creative sounds, but was impressed that they never detracted from the story of the song. I would say that going in to record this album, that was a bit of a North Star. I wanted to play around with space and sound and texture, while staying rooted to the story of each song.
Process wise, we began with a 3-day band session at Salon Sonics in St. Paul. The band tracked in one room, and I recorded vocals and some guitar in the control room. We were able to lay the foundation for 6 of the tracks in that session, as well as grab final vocals for a couple of the songs. Then there were a series of sessions where I went to Dave’s home studio and recorded layers of vocal parts/harmonies/oohs – it was so much fun.
What did you learn about yourself when writing and creating your new album?
I think some of the biggest takeaways throughout making ‘Here’s To You’ is just how much I am still (after all these years) just wildly in love with the act of singing. And also, that singing, for me, has become in recent years a more delicate thing. A more intentional thing perhaps than it was when I was younger. I’ve grown more comfortable with choosing takes or performances based on how they ‘felt’ versus how they ‘sound’
What single is your favorite track off your new album and why?
That changes by the day! One of my favorite tracks is “The Longest Night” – it was the last bit of vocal layering we worked on in the studio, and I kept hearing these kind of expansive AHHHHH moments that reminded me a little of The Carpenters (AHHH!! My favorite!). Also, it is the kind of song that I wish I wrote more of in that the chorus is fairly lyrically simple, and short. I have a wordiness problem sometimes 🙂
I see you recently hosted Midwest Country Music Awards. Tell us a bit about that.
It was SO MUCH FUN! The Midwest Country Music Organization really strives to bring artists together in community, to bring fans into community, and the whole event had this big sense of joy and support. I was able to co-host with Monica Austin, a fantastic artist out of Iowa. We’d never met in person before that day but GOOD HEAVENS she is the coolest. I’m really grateful for the chance to have hosted that event!
What is next for Sarah Morris? Any big plans?
Here’s To You Credits:
SARAH MORRIS – vocals, guitar, piano
DAVE MEHLING – piano, organ, pedal steel, accordion, synth, guitar, percussion
THOMAS NORDLUND – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
ANDREW FOREMAN – upright bass, electric bass
LARS ERIK LARSON – drums, percussion
produced by Dave Mehling
all songs written by Sarah Morris
recorded at Salon Sonics, St Paul, MN – with Holly Hansen (December 3rd 2021, May 3-5 2022)
mixed by Jason McGlone + Holly Hansen
additional recording at RiverRock Studios, NE MPLS, MN – with Eric Blomquist
and Dave’s Attic, MPLS, MN
About Here’s To You:
Morris’ forthcoming album, Here’s To You, is a generous collection of gift songs. Written to family and friends, these songs are alms for our poor hearts, balms for our tenderest parts. The title track has us eavesdropping on an intimate long-distance call to an old friend. Morris sings, “Everything’s changing / with subtle shifts and also with grand rearranging.” Written for some of the most important women in her life, “You Are” is about reflecting back someone’s magic when they can’t see it themselves. “Come Back” sounds romantic at first blush, but it’s a love song to her teenage son who is learning to leave and return home in ever-widening concentric circles. “Longest Night” waxes nostalgic about an evening with two friends before an accident, an illness and a pandemic change the world forever. “Something That Holds” is a grown-up love song to her husband about the small ways we belong to each other.
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