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Monday, August 12, 2013

Sarah Siskind’s Music, Rediscovered

Sarah Siskind has re-released her album, "Covered," under the record label of Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver. (Facebook)

Sarah Siskind has re-released her album, “Covered,” under the record label of Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver. (Facebook)

NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson brings us new music each week to listen to.

This week, we’re reaching back into the archive, sort of.

In 2003, Sarah Siskind released an album called “Covered.” But as a result of severe sinus problems that required surgery, Siskind wasn’t able to tour and the album never really got off the ground.

Now the album is being reissued by Justin Vernon, the musician better known as Bon Iver, on the record label Chigliak.

In the title song, Siskind’s voice, with it’s hint of sadness, shines through.

Guest

Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

Well, when we feel like everything on our playlist is getting stale, we turn to Stephen Thompson for something new. He is writer and editor for NPR Music. Stephen, what song have you brought us this week?

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Well, I've got a wonderful singer named Sarah Siskind. She's written songs for people like Alison Krauss. And like Alison Krauss, she's got a lot of country and folk and Americana to her sound. I first heard her about five years ago because the singer Justin Vernon of Bon Iver played one of her songs live. And I just absolutely fell in love with it and tried to track down everything she did.

Sarah Siskind recorded an album called "Covered" back in 2003, but it's been out of print for ages. And it's actually now being reissued by Justin Vernon himself on his own label. And this is the title song from that record. It's called "Covered."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COVERED")

SARAH SISKIND: (Singing) Where do you go when you are feeling inspired? And you don't want to talk about it because you're already fine. You're so from the day charade.

YOUNG: That's so lovely. First of all, talk about her voice and what grabbed you.

THOMPSON: Well, there's this incredible warmth and vulnerability and a little bit of hurt in Sarah Siskind's voice. It's funny - probably half the Sarah Siskind's fans I know are singer-songwriters themselves, you know, which often tells you something. She recorded this album "Covered" with a guitarist named Bill Frisell, which actually makes a lot of sense because probably half the Bill Frisell fans I know are guitarists themselves. So it's this project of musicians' musician.

YOUNG: Well, and so a little bit of a cult thing, but why else didn't it get bigger? I mean, Bill Frisell is still pretty big, and it's a wonderful sound. Why did that CD disappear?

THOMPSON: A lot of the reason that "Covered" disappeared and was barely released is that Sarah Siskind herself battled a bunch of issues with her sinuses for a few years. She had a string of surgeries and couldn't tour. And so it really disappeared for a number of years, and it took Justin Vernon finding her -because he was a big Bill Frisell fan - in order for her to break through.

She's now fully recovered and has made a bunch of gorgeous records since. And I'm thrilled to see that the Bon Iver connection is shining a light on the stuff she's done because she's just a fantastic singer-songwriter and a wonderful talent.

YOUNG: OK. The talent is Sarah Siskind. The song, "Covered" from the newly reissued album of the same name. So what do you think out there? You can tweet, @hereandnow, @hereandnowrobin, or Stephen, @idislikestephen. Long story, just let him know what you think of the song. Stephen Thompson, writer and editor for NPR Music. This song, again, "Covered" from Sarah Siskind's new album. Stephen, thank you.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COVERED")

SISKIND: (Singing) And all that is covered. If you just...

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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