“Sara Syms lyrics, melodies & vocals are passionate, compelling, heartfelt & soul stirring. The result is pure aural beauty.” – Bob Leone (Songwriters Hall of Fame)
Authentic is the word most often used to describe Sara Syms. An artist willing to be intimate and vulnerable with her fans. Debut album Fade to Blue was nominated for IMEA's Americana Album of the Year and solidified her place on the scene. Following her highly acclaimed debut album, Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sara Syms’ sophomore release, is an artistic and personal breakthrough for the lifelong overachiever. Its 10 songs plumb the limits of her courage and fears to emerge as triumphant proof of Syms journey of musical self-discovery — a route that led her from her Chicago birthplace to the world’s concert stages as a child, into the realm of piano performance, onto championship figure skating and, finally, through the artistic and personal metamorphosis that’s resulted in the balance of beauty, grace, vulnerability and honesty captured in the stories on Way Back Home.
Produced by Chris Cubeta and Nick Africano and recorded at Brooklyn’s GaluminumFoil studio with a who’s who of Americana sidemen including drummer Spencer Cohen (the Lone Bellow), pedal steel player Thad DeBrock (Rosanne Cash, Suzanne Vega), and guitarist Jeff Berner (Caleb Hawley, the Ramblers). But the set’s focus is squarely on Syms’ dark-honey dappled voice and her songwriting. Haunting vocals and beautifully crafted arrangements sweeten 10 tales plucked from the grit and grind of real life.
The album opens with “Way Back Home,” which hangs on the shimmer of Syms’ voice and waves of gently cascading guitars. The blithe vocal melody and warm chorus of “Bright Dreams, Lonely Days” adds sunlight to that number’s lyrics about feeling swept by life’s complex currents. “Hard Work Pay” is an elegant duet for Syms and Africano, who penned the ode to perseverance in the face of personal trials, and “In Time” amplifies that theme. Its message of hope, echoed in Syms’ gently sung line “I’ll find my way in time,” provides a perfect ending for the album. Another notable entry is her take on Delta blues king Robert Johnson’s famed “Cross Road Blues,” fleshed out by Syms’ marvelously dream-like arrangement and a new chorus that she wrote to address the fears she needed to overcome to both leave New York City, where she lived before arriving in Nashville, and to fully commit to her career in music — a business that, like Johnson’s song, has perils and demons.
“Fade To Blue was a very cathartic, healing experience for me,” says Syms, “and it allowed me to get my footing and really stand on my own as a musician. But there were still many things I needed to figure out. How can I up my game as a songwriter? Is there a future for me in this music? Should I move to Nashville?" A place she pondered a move to multiple times over the years.
“Way Back Home helped me answer those questions,” she continues. “I really pushed myself as a writer, and as I did I could feel my grounding in this music solidify. I became more confident. And I came to understand that I have my own real-life stories to tell, and that Nashville is where I need to tell them from. Music is my heart and my lifeline. It makes my soul sing. And I think you can hear all of that in Way Back Home.”