Sarah's latest collection is an
intimate self-portrait, a musical window offering glimpses into
the rooms of her life, each of them containing, she says, a little
part of me. It's a rare and wonderful opportunity to get to know
this charming, spirited, gifted artist and sister in Christ.
Featuring Sarah's joyous folk-pop style and poetic, introspective
lyrics, Into These Rooms
is impressive for its spiritual depth and sophisticated,
multi-layered, tightly produced sound.
Highlights include "For a Little While," a hauntingly tender
piano-ballad/lullaby that captures the bittersweet pang every
mother experiences while holding her sleeping newborn. Co-written
by Texas rocker Curtis Stephan, who also provides edgy harmony on
the song, "Be with Me, Lord" is a poignant duet pleading for God¹s
help and a superb new setting of Psalm 91. Featuring ethereal
guitar work by the legendary Phil Keaggy, "The Hillside" is an
eerie, fantastic musical depiction of the soul's restless journey
through the clouds, shadows and contrary winds of this world.
Other special contributors include Scott Dente (Out of the Grey),
Mark Hill, Jerry McPherson, Dave Cleveland, Jeff Roach and Ken
Listeners who enter into the rooms of Sarah's music can't help but
feel like part of the family, like an unexpected guest received
with generous hospitality. After visiting and hearing her shared
stories and songs, we all leave a little more sure we're not alone
on this spiritual journey.
Remember how that first breeze of Spring feels coming through your window?
That's what listening to Into These Rooms feels like. Sarah Hart is
a breath of fresh air into contemporary music with her sweet vocals and warm
acoustic melodies that wrap around you like an old quilt. Each song is
thoroughly pleasing to the ear and musically well crafted down to the last
note. Whether she's praising God in "So We Will Worship" or pleading for His
help in "Be With Me, Lord," Sarah Hart reveals her delicate heart on this
album. I can only hope the rest of the world sees its beauty. Album
Highlights: “His Name is Joseph” and “Brave New World”
- jennifer e.
HART, "Into These Rooms"
It's a testament to Sarah Hart's talent and spiritual poise that she can
distill an influence as barbed as Sylvia Plath (her favorite poet) into
acoustic music that's delicate and inspiring-without turning soft and
sentimental. Highlighted by piano and cirrus-cloud electric guitar, "His
Name Is Joseph" imagines Mary's nervous thoughts as she contemplates
pregnancy. ("So You have chosen this for me/ I accept it willingly/ But as
for him, I cannot tell.") Then there is Hart's voice, shining and sublime on
tunes such as the lullaby-like "Go In Peace."
From "The Christian Century" by Lou
It's a testament to Sarah
Hart's talent and spiritual poise that she can distill an influence as
barbed as Sylvia Plath (her favorite poet) into acoustic music that's
delicate and inspiring—without turning soft and sentimental. Highlighted by
piano and cirrus-cloud electric guitar, "His Name Is Joseph" imagines Mary's
nervous thoughts as she contemplates pregnancy. ("So You have chosen this
for me / I accept it willingly / But as for him, I cannot tell.") Her voice
is shining and sublime on tunes such as the lullaby-like "Go in Peace."
Sounds like …
acoustic based pop/folk under
the influence of Nanci Griffith, James Taylor, Chris Rice, or Alison Krauss.
At a glance …
a highly likeable blend of
organic arrangements, personable lyrics, and themes outside of the typical
Sarah Hart may be a
relatively new name to contemporary Christian music fans, but she has an
impressive background in the independent scene. Aside from recording several
albums as a solo artist, she founded the all-woman singing group Daughters
of God and served as a staff songwriter for major Christian publishers. In
addition, she's performed at lauded venues such as Nashville's Bluebird Café
and major events such as the National Catholic Youth Convention in
Indianapolis and World Youth Day in Toronto.
Though Hart can communicate
with teens, she also demonstrates mature influences and introspective
songwriting on Into These Rooms. The disc blends lively folk,
pop, and rock under acoustic contexts and the singer's coffeehouse cozy
voice. "Door Swing Wide" is brimming with radio potential and sophisticated
styling, reminiscent of Nichole Nordeman's vocals and Nanci Griffith's
instrumentation. She steers in a slightly more country direction on "With
Only Love," likely to make waves with Alison Krauss fans, while "Be With Me,
Lord (Ps. 91)" is even more stripped down and earthy. Those moments of
vulnerable prayer later resurface with the praise tipped "So We Will
Worship," a congregational-friendly praise piece that avoids cliché.
"His Name Is Joseph"
addresses the rarely discussed matter of stepfathers, written as a tribute
to Hart's "Papa. Also heartfelt is "Go in Peace," about losing a loved one,
but rather than dwelling on the sadness that stems from the loss, it
discusses the joy and wonder of eternal life in heaven. In the end, they all
leave Hart as one of today's more promising organic/acoustic artists who
will hopefully rise beyond the underground for much deserved exposure.
Music Network Review
"How can I tell you about the
latest offering from Sarah Hart? The CD is called Into These Rooms
and it is an intimate self-portrait in song from someone who loves the Lord
and doesn’t mind sharing about all the aspects of that love. A few years
back there was a strange, quirky movie about people being able to go into
the mind of a famous actor for 15 minutes. With the CD you are given at
least an hour into the rooms of Sarah Hart’s life. Hart's joyous, folk-pop
style and poetic, introspective lyrics make this a wonderful experience. The
first song on the CD sets the pace and is called “Doors Swing Wide.” Hart
sings about how life was warm and full of love and then we let it get a
little stale and too comfortable by not opening ourselves completely to God.
He may have to pull down the blinds and kick down the doors to let His rays
of light and love back into our life. How many times did we get knocked on
our butts by life only to grow stronger in His love? The music to this song
is light and poppy, and Hart’s vocals remind me of a cross between Kate
Bush, Tori Amos and Amy Grant. Taken from Psalms 91 is the song “Be With Me
Lord.” When there is trouble, who is our shelter and our strength? To whom
do we cry out for help in our time of need? God is there. This song was
co-written by Catholic singer/songwriter Curtis Stephan, who also sings
harmony. Another guest on the CD is legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy, who
plays on the song “The Hillside.” Sounding almost ambient, the song tells
the story of one who is aiming her life towards her end-journey of the
hillside (Heaven). Through this trek they encounter rough winds, shadows and
“Go in Peace” continues with this them,
reminding us that all the pains that life throws at you are over as this
life-journey ends. God awaits us at His heavenly banquet. This song is a
beautiful send-off for our loved ones that have passed on.
Hart captures an insight of what the Blessed Mother must have thought during
the first days of saying yes to God in the tune, “His Name Is Joseph.” Was
she a little scared about what Joseph would do? Would he quietly divorce
her? In the song we see Mary plea to the angel to go and tell Joseph that
she had been chosen for God’s plan and that he was chosen as well. It is a
peek into the relationship of those charged with care of the Father's Son.
Speaking of mothers, one song that will touch anyone who has had a child is
“For a Little While.” It is a tender piano ballad/lullaby that captures the
bittersweet pain all parents experience while holding their sleeping
newborn. You want to take that moment in time and freeze it. Could they not
just be babies forever? Hart explains that she did not truly know His love
for us until she knew this little life she now holds. The experience of Into These Rooms in not an invasion into Sarah Hart’s private thoughts,
but more like a loved one or family member sharing personal moments of life
and love of God."
Into These Rooms
Sarah Hart's lively
folk-pop sound is reminiscent of Shawn Colvin, and her poetic lyrics provide
reminders of God's hand on our life and the home he provides for us in
heaven. "Be with Me, Lord" is a beautiful plea based on Psalm 91, and Phil
Keaggy chimes in on "The Hillside" about the trek to heaven. Hart's music is
a welcome companion on that trek.
Sarah Hart: Into These Rooms
Mark Fisher - "Infuze
Amazing new feminine voice with honesty and heart
Sarah Hart made a name for herself as a
part of the group Daughters of God, but with the release of her second solo
album, Into These Rooms, she is destined to be remembered for her
contributions as both a solo artist and a lyricist. She has performed all
over the world at Catholic Youth and Diocese events as well as smaller
performances at various venues across the United States. If this album is
any indication of her live performance, then I'm sure she sounds right at
home no matter what the venue size. This is my first exposure to Sarah's
music and I have to say that she is tremendously impressive and I'm anxious
to look back into her past catalog.
Musically this is not a terribly unique
album but it is a strong one. Sarah delivers a mid-tempo blend of pop, adult
contemporary, and folk that would be right at home on Lillith Fair, if it
were still going. It's as easy to envision her sharing the stage with Sarah
McLaughlin, or even someone like Enya (evidenced by the beautiful song "The
Hillside"), as it to envision her sharing the stage with Margaret Becker.
Close to a majority of the album finds
Sarah talking with her inner folkie which not only puts the focus on Sarah's
strong lyrics, but it also gives the album a nice sway that keeps the album
flowing, thus keeping your attention really well. "Brave New World" even has
a bit of country/Americana feel with its upfront acoustic guitar and gentle
What is perhaps the most striking about
Sarah's music is her strong feminine voice. Her voice is very intimate and
open sounding, bringing to mind artists like Christine Dente and Kelly
Minter almost immediately. I think Sarah could probably sing the phone book
and I'd be mesmerized. On songs like "His Name is Joseph" and "Be With Me
Lord (Psalm 91)" Sarah sings like the listener does not even exist. She taps
into something much bigger than the artist/fan relationship and you quickly
get lost in it.
This album connects on a lot of different
levels. Fans of lyric driven music will find Sarah's work superb as will
fans of strong female artists like any of the aforementioned ones. On the
other side of that, this will probably appeal to fans of quality
pop/acoustic rock artists as well. This is an excellent album and mostly
anyone would be happy checking out Into These Rooms.
Sarah Hart - Into These Rooms
Reviewed by Ian Hayter
Sarah Hart has worked with The Daughters,
but this is one of her solo efforts and it's a real beauty. The 13 tracks
offer "an intimate self-portrait - glimpses into the rooms of her life" (as
her website puts it). There are beautiful string arrangements, fine piano
playing - especially on "For A Little While" (a song about her new-born
baby) - and some excellent guitar work: but what else would you expect with
Scott Dente and the incomparable Phil Keaggy guesting? Mr Keaggy gets to
work on "The Hillside" and creates a wonderful backdrop to Sarah Hart's
vocals, reminiscent on this track of the mature Kate Bush. The lyrics are
articulate and, on some tracks (notably "So We Will Worship"), very
worshipful. She duets with co-writer Curtis Stephan on a version of Psalm
91, "Be With Me, Lord" and there is a superb song dedicated to the funeral
choir at St Mary's Church, Lanchester, Ohio entitled "Go In Peace", which
would grace any funeral service. There's a deep Catholic spirituality that
runs through the songs and Jeff Thomas' production married to Sarah's
wonderful voice makes this a real must-have album.
The Dallas Morning News
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Arts & Media: Music
Into These Rooms
Sarah Hart (www.spiritandsong.com)
Any mother will get her money's worth from
this CD with one song alone: "For A Little While" is a bittersweet lullaby
to the vocalist's baby daughter: "Wishing this sacred night could freeze in
time/Just so I could hold the world/And I could be her world for a little
Listening makes you wonder why romantic
love gets all the airtime, when this kind of love is so achingly tender and
piercing. The CD offers non-maternal joys as well. Ms. Hart's style is hard
to classify but has clarity, richness and depth.
She sings with simple, trusting faith in
"Be With Me Lord", a setting of Psalm 91 (with co-writer Curtis Stephan
providing the harmony). Then she switches gears to ethereal moodiness in
"The Hillside", with guitar work by Phil Keaggy.
The singer-songwriter cites James Taylor,
Thomas Merton and Sylvia Plath as influences. Listeners will hear a little
of each, as Ms. Hart sings with folksy warmth that's layered with mystery
and poetry. - Mary A. Jacobs
Quick Takes: Reviews
Into These Rooms
Sarah Hart (www.spiritandsong.com)
Into These Rooms is an apt title for Sarah
Hart's latest CD. Listening to this collection of intimate ballads is like
sitting in the living room of a childhood friend and catching up on life
over a hot cup of herbal tea. Hart's voice, whether tinged with melancholy
or joy, is enough to bring tears to your eyes. Sweet, acoustic pop-rock
melodies alternating between Bruce Hornsby-esque piano and Phil Keaggy-esque
guitar make this a must have album for anyone who loves reflection and
praise. - Mike Parker
Joyful Noise by PJ Littleton
from May/June 05 Catholic Parent
Sarah Hart - Into These Rooms
Mark Twain once said, “Write about what
you know.” Catholic singer/songwriter Sarah Hart knows this instinctively.
Her records over the years have passionately chronicled the seasons of her
own life as well as of those she loves that surround her.
I spoke with Sarah on the eve of writing
this review after many months of losing touch. Catching up came quickly. The
lilt and lift in her voice as she spoke twinkled with the evidence of joyful
times, harried days and restful assurance for hopeful tomorrows. Motherhood
looks good on her, and the song “For a Little While,” written for her
youngest, Evelyn, palpitates the parent pulse, measuring the oh-so-fleeting
time that we may cling to our child’s sweet, sweet face. Hart sings, “I
never knew His love, until I knew this love,” and as she lays her baby in
her cradle, she laments, “One day I will struggle to remember this.” Whew!
“With Only Love” is dedicated to “that
guy whose laundry is mixed with mine.” Whether it be society, the media,
movies or music, the word “love” has somehow lost its essence and sacred
meaning in our desensitized world, while the deepest of loves cannot be
fully expressed in this one little word or even in a flurry of many fitting
others. Sarah magnifies the heights and depths of love as it is meant to be
felt and understood. This song is a destined hit for those fortunate enough
to get it. The layered vocals chorus is lofty in its contrapuntal weave;
every bit as engaging as any BarlowGirl track.
I asked her which song on the CD
resonated most with her right now. She answered without hesitation, “Brave
New World.” She said, “I believe in Creator God, and because I do, I need to
create things of worthiness. We all should be working hard to make our
best.” “Brave New World” is a kick in the pants to get out of bed and seize
the day. Hart tries on Dorothy Gale’s shoes and sings, “Maybe the red shoes
didn’t fit / And I’m still stuck in Kansas / But it’s beautiful.”
“Door Swing Wide” is a metaphorical
surrendering of self, a reawakening from our baptism to the place of
spiritual freedom, while “The Hillside” evokes a Desert Father spirituality
that plays like a John Michael Talbot masterpiece. My favorite is her homage
to the Magnificat and the No. 1 stepdad of all time in “His Name is Joseph.”
PJ’s OK: All in all, “Into These Rooms”
is Sarah Hart’s finest work to date, and that is a tall statement
considering her near flawless discography. This collective family album she
seems to be willing to share with us has become a testimony and imprimatur
of faith. And, as believers, we know how a glorious story like this ends.
Charming, Cool and Catholic
A Catholic Music
Spotlight with Sarah Hart, Into These Rooms
by Lisa M. Hendey
Lisa M. Hendey is webmaster of
www.CatholicMom.com , a wife and mother of two and a Catholic music fan
and supporter. This article appeared on the
www.CatholicMom.com website as
As a fan and reviewer of Catholic music, I am
pretty broad minded when it comes to listening tastes. I’m equally at home
with liturgical “covers”, chant, or a hip-hop priest. But I know I have a
winner on my hands when I pop a CD into my car stereo and my thirteen year
old son doesn’t automatically start whining. Based on this criteria, the
latest CD from Catholic recording artist Sarah Hart is sure to be a winner.
With her upbeat lyrics, musicianship and a
faith that shines through in every song, Sarah Hart manages to bridge the
generation gap between mother and son in my home. Sarah and her family live
and work in Nashville’s music industry and she writes and records between
her primary vocations as wife and mother.
Sarah Hart shared the following on this latest
CD and her take on Catholic music and her faith:
Sarah Hart, Catholic musician and mom of two, congratulations on the recent
release of your new CD, Into These Rooms and thanks for
your participation in this Catholic Music Spotlight interview. Could you
please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
A: Thanks! And thanks for having me here.
Well, I grew up in Lancaster, Ohio (central Ohio). I went to Catholic
schools grades 1-12, and graduated from the Ohio State University with a
degree in Music Theory & Composition (and still can't believe I made it out
alive, let alone with a degree!). I've been married for eleven years to my
awesome husband, Kevin, and I have two beautiful (yeah, I'm biased)
daughters who are two and four. We live in Nashville, TN. My husband works
in the music industry as well. When I'm not writing, or traveling, or being
mommy, or cooking, or cleaning something or someone (which doesn't leave
much time, huh?), I'm a closet artist and poet wannabe.
Q: Sarah, as a Catholic musician, how has
your faith journey impacted upon your creative process and your music?
A: Faith can not help but impact every part
of life. If we are people of faith, I really believe that it shows...as a
musician, I guess that fact that I am always on this "seekers journey", if
you will, just makes itself evident. I'm honestly never trying to push my
faith in my music, or judge how I think others should see things; rather,
I'm choosing to write what I know, from my own perspective in life (which
includes my faith!)...and somehow my journey is universal. Others can see my
walk in their own, too, I think, and vice versa. That's part of what makes
being a writer so cool...you think you're being so finite, writing and
singing about your own little universe; when in actuality, you are affirming
others who are moving parallel. (sorry, I just got through watching a Nova
special about "String Theory"...getting in over my head!)
Q: Into These Rooms features
thirteen original compositions, each a work of art in its own right. As a
songwriter, how do you translate emotion and spirit into song? Where do
your ideas come from and how do you capture them in lyrics?
A: You know, ideas are a funny thing. They
just come when they want to, and usually for me they happen at such random
times...driving, reading, changing a diaper, playing "Hi-Ho-Cherry-O" for
the fortieth time...sometimes even in my sleep. I just can never tell. I try
to be very proactive about writing ideas down the minute they happen; if I
don't, I can pretty much guarantee that they'll be gone. Mommydom will do
that for you...help you forget a LOT! :) As for capturing them in
lyric...that's a bit trickier. Let me just say this; I usually spend time on
a lyric. I almost always read over and over and over it before I am
satisfied. I've even been known to change a word or two in the midst of
recording vocals. So I guess my heart just knows when it is "right". And,
I've been doing this writing thing for a while...there truly is no
substitute for lots of practice.
Q: I was touched by many of the songs on
Into These Rooms, but as a mom, "For a Little While" is
one of my favorites. Could you tell us a bit about this song? Do you have
a favorite song on the disk, or one that you particularly enjoy singing?
A: Yes, this song is pretty special to me,
too. I came home one night after a long day in the studio, when I was making
"Live It". I got home just in time for my mom, who was visiting, to hand me
the already warmed bottle for Evie (my youngest, who was about eight months
at the time). I took her into the nursery, sat in the rocker with her, and
gave her the bottle while I sang to her. As she was falling asleep in my
arms, my heart felt so heavy...all I could think was "I can't believe I
missed a whole day, a WHOLE DAY, with my little baby". It broke my
heart...and I just started writing the lullaby, right there, with her in my
arms. I finished it over the next two days. I remember sobbing as I typed up
the last verse lyric on my computer, and then again when I was trying to
sing it. It was awful! (But hey, if you can't make 'em cry, you're doing
something wrong...). I also really love "My Evening Prayer", which I wrote
for my older daughter, Addie. She is such a restless little spirit...the
whole song is perfectly suited for her. Actually, I'm very happy with the
way the whole project came out. Not sure if, from an artist standpoint,
that's a good or a bad thing!
Q: How do you balance the roles of mother
A: I pray. A lot. And then I pray some more.
It's certainly not easy, but fortunately I had the world's greatest mother,
so I know what I'm supposed to do! And I have a really terrific support
system, too, in my husband. He is so good about watching the girls while I
am away. Although reactions from other moms are hysterical..."you mean he
watches the kids? For a whole weekend? All by HIMSELF?” I usually say "well,
yes. You know, he IS responsible for half of this!". I understand that it's
not easy for women to "trust" their hubbies with the kids (I'm no
exception!). I remember a friend of mine saying once, "It took me a long
time to figure out that he wasn't doing it wrong, just doing it
differently". It's so true!
OK, but about that balancing thing, I just
pray. Before I had my first baby, a friend of mine taught me how to juggle
(literally). That was a good precursor for working motherhood. I also take
my fair share of bubble baths.
Q: Could you please tell us a bit about
Mercy Corps, and your involvement with their work?
A: They are phenomenal. They do all the
things that I so want to do in my life. At this point I can represent them
and give money, but I hope and pray that the time is coming when I can
actually do some mission work with them myself.
They have a passion for people, both home and
abroad, who are in the direst of situations. They work to provide people
with the basics, from clean water to food to shelter to healthcare. They
have been a force in assisting victims in Southeast Asia following the
Tsunami, and the refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan, where there is a
humanitarian disaster of unfathomable proportions happening.
It is amazing how far an American dollar goes
in most of the third world countries. Mercy Corps has one of the highest
dollar-to-donation rates, with 91% going straight to those in need and only
9% to the company for overhead. For those of you who know how charitable
organization finances work, you know that's an astounding number. It is so
good to be on their team...I want the world to know about them, and the
great things they do. By the way, the web address is
http://www.mercycorps.org . If
you've been seeking for a charity to become committed to...this is it!
Q: I've read that your busy schedule
includes singing for World Youth Day 2005 in Germany. Wow! How do you
prepare for singing before large groups, and for a life experience such as
this? Do you have any previous concerts that really stand out for you?
A: You know, they all stand out in their own
way. I am just so grateful to God that I get to sing...I don't care where!
(I've been known to sing the Barney theme song at rest areas, and just
yesterday sang the long version of "Free", from Barbie's Princess and the
Pauper, with Addie while strolling through Target). I have to say, the
bigger audiences are much easier than the small ones. You can shout your
message, sing your songs, and thousands will cheer! (though they may be
cheering the fact that a moon-sized beach ball just bounced overhead..) With
smaller audiences, things get more intimate, and you have to be much more
honest, much more vulnerable. But if you ask me which I prefer, I'd say that
small concert crowd...I love the vulnerability thing. It lets people see the
real you, with all of your warts. That's a good, important, humbling thing.
Q: Who are some of your favorite Catholic
musicians? What hopes do you hold out for the future of the Catholic music
A: I LOVE the Innocence Mission. I think
their integrity and honesty as musicians is amazing...they have held to who
they are. It's a rare thing in this crazy industry. Of course, my fellow
Spirit and Song folks I have to applaud, because they all have something
AMAZING going on (see www.spiritandsong.com to find out what I mean!). I also think
Danielle Rose is such a fine musician and writer, with some very important
things to say. And, as far as the Catholic contemporary music scene goes, we
are headed upward....definitely. I pray all the time that the Church and her
people will once again support her musicians, artists, writers, as she once
did so graciously. (we're talking Michelangelo's time here!...) It's
starting to happen. And, uh, artists like to eat. :)
Can I just say, though, that there are so many
amazing musicians out there! (Catholic or not...) When I am listening to
music, I can't judge who's behind it, or what their own values are...rather,
I make a real effort to use listening as an opportunity to look into my own
heart, to find out how I interpret other people's art, and what that means
for my own walk. It's taken me a while to get there. But listening and
searching for what's true (for me!) has become so much easier since I
decided to start listening that way.
Q: Sarah, congratulations again for the
success of this new CD. Are you working on any future projects you’d like
to share with us?
A: Yes...I think I am going to do a Christmas
record this year, and I am in talks about it with someone in
particular....if it comes to fruition, it will be VERY exciting. VERY! And
very cool. I'll keep you posted...(sorry, can't say more than that)
Q: A huge thanks to Sarah Hart, Catholic
singer and songwriter, for your participation in this Catholic Music
Spotlight. Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share with our
A: Absolutely! Love God. Be good mommies. Ask
God for help. Pray for your children. Pray for your children's daddies. Pray
for other families. Yes, you will make it to 18 (and 21, and 27, and
35.....). Changing diapers, answering toddler questions, cleaning up after
bath time, helping with homework and hugging teenagers are prayers. Get out
of the house once in a while. Jesus loves you.