With Wonderland, Sarah did something rare – she left Nashville and wrote and recorded a country record over here in the UK, culminating in a great mix of breezy country pop tunes.
“It was such an exciting process!” Sarah says. “I decided to write and record Wonderland in the UK, and I just thought it would be quite something to make a country album here, bringing my own national vibe to it and mixing it with the UK vibe.
“After my headline tour here last year, I just stayed on, on and off. I went back and forth, but I was writing over here. I wanted to set up a team of different people to write with. I had some help from friends setting it up, but I was writing with people that I didn’t know.
“It was pretty cool because in Nashville I have a circle of people that I write with all the time, but I was thinking it would be even cooler to write with some brand-new people, just walking into the room with someone I didn’t know and then writing.
“It was strange because when you are writing, you have to get really quite personal and saying these things to someone you don’t know… but I found that it was a pleasantly-wonderful experience. I was worried about it, but it was great. It was a really warm experience.”
And it was very British: “We would have a cup of tea and get to know each other and then start writing.”
Sarah believes you can feel the Britishness in the finished product: “But another reason why I wanted to make the album is that I love albums that have a geographic location because they take on that influence. You get a lot of pop music and electronic music in the UK. A lot of country music is from a very folky and dream inspiration. When you put the two worlds together, it is great.”
Sarah worked on the album half in Wales and half in a central London studio: “And it became really organic. It takes the story-telling aspect and we have blended it with some electronic elements that really work nicely. When I listen to it, it feels really transportive. It is the perfect album after Dream Country which was… very dreamy!
“And I think there is always a pressure to do something different. As a musician, as a creator, I think you have always got to create something new, no matter who you are or where you are. And I think that making myself a pinch uncomfortable was a good thing. It might end up everybody’s favourite album, but it feels like I have put so much into it. Most of it I was so far away from home.”
The album comes out in June.
Sarah has been coming to the UK for the past five years. It helps that she has got an English husband James, very much a Nashville resident now: “I met him while I was visiting in London on holiday. We met, I was charmed by his British accent and we went to Paris. We live in Nashville. He grew up in Surrey and he has told me about a hundred times that he probably won’t ever come back (to Surrey). He is a proper Nashvillian now. His only worry is that he might lose his British accent!”