Local Noise: Sara Carlson

Heralding from the Jersey Shore, by way of Italy, comes Sara Carlson, who recently released her third album, Heartdance. The release is a mixture of eclectic melodies and rhythms, and includes tribal drums and deep bass along with singer-songwriter sensibilities.

The album was recorded and co-produced with Scott Ansell, who also hails from the Shore and has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, Shawn Colvin and Run DMC. Also contributing was Roger Moutenot, known for his work with Paula Cole, Lou Reed, Yo La Tengo and Rosanne Cash. Guests included highly respected musical luminaries such as Elliott Murphy and Allison Cornell.
Sara’s past includes a stint as an Italian singing star, which is an unusual career path for a Jersey girl. “At 16, I was cast at an open audition for a Dr. Pepper commercial, and began working professionally as a dancer in film, tv, and rock videos like Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield” and The Power Station’s “Get It On (Bang A Gong),” she explains. “One day I was sent on a casting in New York for the number one Italian tv show, Al Paradise. After multiple auditions, I was invited to go to Rome by Antonello Falqui, Italy’s most renowned tv director. The entire experience was very surreal and amazing!”

Her journey has enabled her to experience many great things, and they all combine to influence her work. “I feel like I’ve been unconsciously influenced by everything I’ve ever heard,” she says. “I learned to play my first instrument, my body, through figure skating and the dance. As a teenager, I danced across the floors of countless New York City dance classes to live drummers of all kinds, classical pianists, hardcore ‘dance’ music, modern rock, top 40 tunes, and just about every type of music under the sun. Annie Lennox, Stevie Nicks, Led Zeppelin, and U2 have inspired me with their mystical flavors.” Her Shore roots also play a role in her music. “In times of creativity, joy and sorrow, being near the water has had a very soothing effect on my soul,” she adds. “I must say I have fallen in love with the Shore! Many of the lyrics and melodies on Heartdance came out on the beaches of the Jersey Shore.”

The genesis of the songs never come the same way to Sara, as she tries to let the music write itself, and just does her best to get out of the way and let it flow through her. “Whatever comes through, I honor it and get it down in the studio,” she says. “I usually have no idea where it is going. I write lyrics the same way. I have books full of words, ideas and phrases that I write whenever I feel it. Sometimes it takes years for a melody or lyric to find its way into a finished piece of music, and then I’ll have an ‘oh that’s where that goes’ kind of feeling, almost like one recognizes a piece to a puzzle.” It also tends to come to her from many different directions, leading to a combination of influences that might not normally fit together. “A true hybrid of many worlds,” she muses. “Healing tones and melodies that soothe and seduce your soul into a frequency of love, while the rhythms, grooves and juicy bottom end encourage toe tapping and hip shaking. I feel as if the music is not from me, but came through me!”

Though she feels like all of her songs are her children, and therefore can’t play favorites, tracks that have been getting the most attention seem to be “Round,” “Greatest Gift,” “Paradise,” “Bound For Glory” and “Love Is.” Elliott Murphy joined in on “Round,” and Allison Cornell added violas to “Greatest Gift.”

“After playing and recording most of my parts alone, Roger Moutenot came in at different times during the journey, adding his soul-filled contributions,” Sara adds. “I had known of Roger through his work with artists such as Paula Cole, Lou Reed, Rosanne Cash and Yo La Tengo. He had such a major impact on the sonic landscape of the record, playing multiple instruments on 13 of the 14 tracks. Roger and Scott have a long history of working together, going back to their days as staff engineers at the legendary Skyline Studios in New York City. There was an undeniable magical energy between the three of us.”

The name Heartdance has a very personal meaning to Sara. “The name spoke to me as really representing my journey and where I am artistically,” she relates. “A ‘heartdance’ is being your most authentic self and living that fully in your own unique divine way, from the heart!”

You can find out more about Sara through her website, saracarlson.net, and get a copy of Heartdance through iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby.