Sarah Louise, whose website is linked here, is a UK-based country singer-songwriter.
“Half of You” was released on February 28th, and it is out on all platforms right now. It is one of those dreamy, romantic country pieces about the love two people share. It’s full of that warm glow and has a great feel to it, but we may find another side to it in the interview below!
We will come to the new single in a short while, but in this wide-ranging chat with Sarah Louise, we began with the “My Country” album that was released in 2019.
Sarah Louise- I actually recorded it in 2017, but I didn’t have the confidence to share it right away. I put it out there and then took it down as I had a feeling it wasn’t the right time. But then people were asking me where that had gone, so I had second thoughts and put it out again. I put my own song out first, as I wanted to write my music and be true to myself. That song was “All I Need,” and that was okay for a new artist on the scene, and then I released “My Country,” which made me aware that my niche was country and that I had to embrace it and be true to myself. Then lockdown happened, and I couldn’t stop writing. I taught myself how to play guitar and became very interested in songwriting during that time.
We came across a song called “Eyes to See,” which was a little bit of a departure from the “My Country” sound, and it was piano-based. So we wondered whether Sarah Louise wrote her songs on the piano.
Sarah Louise- For that song, I spoke to my producer and said that, as this was such a personal song, I could hear it with the piano, so I felt that it needed what I had done on the guitar transposed onto the piano to make it more of a personal ballad. It was a song written for my daughter’s 18th birthday, and I think that the guitar has a personal effect, but the piano will speak to the heart straightaway. You are tuned in with the piano. It is easy for me to write on the guitar, but I can write on the piano, and that is where “Half of You” came in because that was written on the piano. I don’t use the piano live; I’d need more confidence for that! I only use the piano for accompaniment. I am also a performer, and when I am live, I like to have nothing attached to me, but be able to move and connect with the audience. I don’t like being restricted with an instrument, I like to play it but then put it down. As a singer, I prefer to have musicians who are familiar with my music assist and accompany me.
Some of her songs do appear autobiographical, Sarah Louise appears to be one of those musicians who draws upon their lives for inspiration.
Sarah Louise- With me, a song has to be about something personal to me, or I have to know the person it happened to. I need to feel the song before I can sing it. I can’t fake the emotion in the song.
It’s funny how things interconnect. When we spoke to Eva Schuman, she had done a classic jazz cover of “Ribbons and Bows,” and those ribbons and bows feature in Sarah Louise’s great country version of “XXXs and OOOs.” She brings an American feel to her music that seems to take it over the Atlantic.
Sarah Louise- People love me singing that song and are always surprised when I tell them it is not my original. They feel it sounds like me. And I do feel I have developed a twang in my vocals, and I can’t not do that now. I know I’m an English artist, but I’m not Kate Nash! Sometimes if I’m doing a radio jingle, which I have done for schools and so on, I have to get into character. But naturally, I sing like an American, which is a bit weird.
There is also quite a bit of Motown in there. There is a song called “But I do love you,” in which we hear a bit of Dusty Springfield and the Motown beat. These things are always subjective, but we thought there was that influence there.
Sarah Louise- I love Motown. I love Jackie Wilson and all that style, Aretha Franklin. And perhaps I have picked up some of that from what I listen to. I’ve never been cast as Motown, but I do like you mentioning it! That means my roots are there, but subconsciously.
And we have changed the listening experience. In the great days of Motown, it was the album release that was awaited, now we cherry pick those downloads.
Sarah Louise- True, and they have gotten rid of CDs in cars now. I have literally 2,000 CDs, and I won’t get rid of them! I like the feel of them, that is my history. I remember where I was when I bought it, who I was with, and how I felt when I listened to it. I remember the songs I used to skip to. I know I will never get that feeling from Spotify, I won’t get rid of my CDs.
Looking at the merchandise side of things, Sarah Louise has a great merchandise page, with the merchandise all connected to her songs. And, like us at the magazine, we see merchandise as a route to help earn some of that much needed revenue.
Sarah Louise- Merchandise can help, it is a part of the business, but it is really hard. My fans do like to buy the new T-shirt for a song, but it costs me a lot to get the merchandise in the first instance. I guess the shirts and everything help advertise me as a performer, but the income stream isn’t great.
We know that from the magazine! Additionally, the pandemic took a heavy toll on live performances, which are so important. Did Sarah Louise feel the events were back to pre pandemic levels?
Sarah Louise- I won’t admit defeat! In my heart, I won’t give up, and I know better times are ahead. I was born to perform, and I will do whatever I can to make it happen.
We think Sarah Louise is there with the mainstream country sound; she is very much a traditional country performer.
Sarah Louise- Let’s face it, I’m not a rock singer! I don’t rap, and I’m not hip-hop. I’m not pop either, but I do love gospel and my “Tennessee Whisky.” I’d like to do a gospel version as I love the soul and the real vibrato. That chest voice, the harmony, and the dual vocals. I would love to sing with an orchestra, so I would love to go down that route.
One of our favourite singers of all time was Nina Simone. Now, Nina was always considered the queen of soul or jazz, but we argue that gospel was her true love, and she always tried to get gospel music out there. She also wanted to be a concert pianist, never really wanting to be a singer as such.
Sarah Louise- I’m not sure she wanted to be in jazz; they put her in a niche, but she was never in a niche. Listen to her style; none of her songs are the same… And Queen, you can’t box either; they were fun and serious. They had this great level of performance standard. Freddie set the standard; he had the audience in the palm of his hand.
Finishing on the commercial sounding “Half of You,” Sarah Louise told us a little about that one.
Sarah Louise- “Half of You” is actually a break-up song. I didn’t place that in the song description as it was a bit raw and personal, but now I can deal with it. It is telling the universe what you want and what you manifest in a relationship. It is what I see in the relationship that is worthwhile, and it is when you feel it in your heart. That other half of you belongs to the other person, and you should be able to share that other half of you.
Then we finished with a look ahead to 2023.
Sarah Louise- I have a few festivals planned. I’m also releasing a new covers album, with the single being released first on March 28th. That is the Whitney Houston classic, “I wanna dance with somebody.” And then the whole album is out on April 14. There will be a preview launch at the end of this month. Also, I’m off to Nashville to work on material for my next original album, which will be released in late summer. And what else…I’m in Scotland for a songwriters retreat, so I am going full throttle this year. 2023 is when it all happens!
By Benny (the Ball) Benson
Mark C. Chambers
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