Woman At Work: Sarah Jaffe

Michael Verity on September 5, 2012

Photo by Dylan Ho

“A lot of the songs on the album were written on the road, in a state of constant movement.” So says singer Sarah Jaffe about her latest album, The Body Wins, an enthusiastic new set melding the intuitive lyricism of modern folk with the energetic rhythms of indie rock.

Motion, whether in the form of internal ruminations or external expeditions, has always been central to the life of the 26-year-old singer born in Lufkin, Texas. Her nomadic family bounced around the state for a number of years before pitching their tent in Red Oak, a small suburb 20 minutes south of Dallas.

“My dad was a women’s high school basketball coach and my mom has always been an art teacher,” she says between gigs opening for Norah Jones. “Whether it was traveling with basketball teams or moving to different school districts, we didn’t stay put until I was about eight years old.”

Even when her family finally put down roots, Jaffe’s desire for movement still abided. “Red Oak had a lot of space to roam around,” she recounts. “Big skies, swimming pools. My neighborhood friends and I used to play outside until it was dark. Then, when there was nothing to do, it was just quiet. And I let my imagination and boredom take over.”

Music – inspired by her parents’ affection for James Taylor and Joni Mitchell – became the vessel into which Jaffe poured the results of her suburban boredom. “I remember the day my Mom brought home a guitar from a garage sale. I remember the excitement I felt when I played it in my room. I was completely content.”

Fast forward to her newest recording and “content” is a good word to describe her feeling about the collection. “This is the record I’ve always wanted to make but wasn’t ready, or didn’t know how to make,” she says, pointing to the confidence that she’s gained from performing live.

But, as has always been the case with Jaffe, restlessness trumps contentment. “I hope I can say the same thing about the next record, too,” she adds excitedly. “I always want to keep growing musically, and personally.”