Artist Spotlight: Sarah Darling's On The Rise

Sarah Darling has been working in country music for the last few years and released a promising debut album in 2009 and recently released the spirited follow-up Angels & Devils last month. We recently had the chance to talk with Sarah about the album and more.

“It’s been so exciting,” she tells “I have enjoyed making this record. I tell people that I’m always writing for the record, and this one is a lot more grown up than my first. It’s definitely more in your face. I call it the ‘Sarah Darling 2.0 record.’ I think the process of making the move to Nashville and what I’ve learned really comes through, and you really get to know who I am through the songs and the production---everything is so me. I’m really glad to release this record. It’s really exciting to see what the fans are going to say.”

Making sure the development showed from her 2009 debut Every Monday Morning was important to the Iowa native. “I think that’s a fear that a lot of artists have. You think about making your first record, and then you think ‘How do I beat this.’ I think that for me, it was important that I got to produce some of the vocals myself, and as a songwriter, I had a hand in writing all the songs except for two. That really makes you more attached to the project,” she says. “It’s your heart and soul in the songs, and when you’re putting them out there to the world, you want them to be how you want them to be.”

Angels & Devils features one disc that has the studio cuts with a full band, as well as a disc that features Darling in an acoustic setting. She admitted that took her back to her first days in Music City.

“When I first moved to Nashville, I moved here as a singer / songwriter. I played all over Nashville. A lot of artists do. We do these writers’ nights, and I played the Bluebird and this little place called Lyrics. I spent so much time playing all over town----just me and my guitar, and it’s a big part of who I am, so I wanted to give the fans two sides of me. You’re going to hear a fully produced full-band disc, and you’re also going to get the acoustic side that is just me and a piano. It’s a side that a lot of people don’t get to hear me do, but the people that are close to me say that they love hearing me do that side. I wanted to give the fans a chance to hear that intimate sound of my voice. “

The acoustic track for “Something To Do With Your Hands” has very much a Glee sound, and would be a natural for the FOX-TV series---should they ever do a Country show. Besides her vocals, Darling says there is one man responsible for the track. “My producer, Jimmy Nichols, made all those sounds himself on the acoustic version. There’s one person doing that. If there was an award for most creative person on the track, he should get it. He came into the studio one day, and said ‘Listen to this. I’ve made all these sounds up, and I think I’ve made up this track.’ I was blown away. The single has been doing great. The video has blown up for us. It’s so wonderful. It’s a great and exciting time for us.”

The video has been playing on both CMT and GAC---where Darling was “Artist of the Month” in March. Fans of Professional Wrestling might recognize a familiar face. “A.J. Stiles is in the video,” she exclaims. “It’s been fun getting his fans e-mailing me and messaging me about Country Music. It’s a neat thing.”

One of the most powerful cuts on the set is the sensual “Bad Habit.” She hopes fans will get to hear it soon on the radio. “It’s my favorite song from the record. I’m really hoping and praying that will be the next single. When you’re thinking about songs you’ve written as a songwriter, I call that one a work of art. There are no songs in my catalog that I’m more proud of. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”

She recently got to perform the song on one of Country Music’s most revered stages. “Vince Gill sang harmonies on the record, and he also sang with me when I made my Opry debut in February. He introduced me. It was an over-the-top and amazing experience for me. “

What was it like for the singer to make her debut on the world-famous WSM radio show? “The next morning when I woke up, it was almost like it didn’t happen. You dream about doing something like that since I was a little girl, and my grandpa always said ‘I want to hear you sing on that Opry stage. He was there, both my grandparents were there, my folks were there. It was very magical. That first time experience you never get back. I went and bought a $400 dress. I did it up!”

Of course, when Darling took to the stage, she wasted no time making it to the famed circle that was brought over from the Ryman Auditorium. “I went straight to the circle. Right before I went on stage, somebody said ‘Don’t be afraid. Walk around a little bit. Just be yourself.’ So, that was really good encouragement because a lot of people go straight to the mic. I did ‘Something To Do With Your Hands,’ which is a fun song, so I kind of walked around and made eye contact with a lot of the people, which was fun.”

Making her first appearance on the show was something that she got to cross off her bucket list, though she admits the nerves were there. “As soon as I walked in there, there’s a feeling of ‘This is what Country Music is all about. Everybody in this industry wants to play there. There are so many greats that have walked out on this stage---so many great singers, songwriters, and musicians----the energy there is incredible. I was nervous, but I think that was absolutely normal. I honestly was just praying right before I went on stage that I’d be calm.”

Darling is very excited about the press that the album has been getting. Critics are praising her development since her debut. She’s glad for the comments, as it’s something she has been working on.

“I think that you have to keep growing, and some people put so much pressure on themselves to make this amazing project, and I think for me, I just want to keep growing and enjoy the process of the songwriting and not put so much pressure on myself. I think if you can enjoy that process of growing, you’re on the right track. I hope the next record is even better than this one. I just want to keep moving forward, and keep making great projects that people will remember. I want to make music that touches people. If anything, I want them to feel some kind of emotion.”

She admits there have been some growing pains along her path, but she’s glad for every one---as it has made her stronger, both vocally and emotionally. “I moved here very young, and I was naïve. I was nineteen. I think that the years of going out to radio and travelling, working my voice----it does something to you in a good way. It makes you see the big picture, and just be yourself. You get comfortable in your own skin and your own shoes. To me, that’s what happened over the last couple of years. That’s why it’s so exciting to share this project, because I think people will really get to see me and hear me through this, and that’s the best part about it.”

For more on this beautiful rising talent, check out her website.