Following her highly acclaimed debut album, nominated for IMEA’s Americana Album of the Year, Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sara Syms’ sophomore release, is an artistic and personal breakthrough for the lifelong overachiever. Its 10 songs plumb the limits of her courage and fears to emerge as triumphant proof of Syms journey of musical self-discovery — a route that led her from her Chicago birthplace to the world’s concert stages as a child, into the realm of piano performance, onto championship figure skating and, finally, through the artistic and personal metamorphosis that’s resulted in the balance of beauty, grace, vulnerability and honesty captured in the stories on Way Back Home.
Produced by Chris Cubeta and Nick Africano and recorded at Brooklyn’s GaluminumFoil studio with a who’s who of Americana sidemen including drummer Spencer Cohen (the Lone Bellow), pedal steel player Thad DeBrock (Rosanne Cash, Suzanne Vega), and guitarist Jeff Berner (Caleb Hawley, the Ramblers). Haunting vocals and beautifully crafted arrangements sweeten 10 tales plucked from the grit and grind of real life.
The album opens with “Way Back Home,” which hangs on the shimmer of Syms’ voice and waves of gently cascading guitars. The blithe vocal melody and warm chorus of “Bright Dreams, Lonely Days” adds sunlight to that number’s lyrics about feeling swept by life’s complex currents. “Hard Work Pay” is an elegant duet for Syms and Africano, who penned the ode to perseverance in the face of personal trials, and “In Time” amplifies that theme. Its message of hope, echoed in Syms’ gently sung line “I’ll find my way in time,” provides a perfect ending for the album.
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