Evolution theory 

Denton, Texas-based singersongwriter Sarah Jaffe broke through in 2010 with her first full-length album, Suburban Nature, boasting
a beautiful sound, charming voice and lyrical wit, all evidenced by the
single, “Clementine.” It won her spots playing shows with Norah Jones
and The Old 97’s, so she could have just leaned on that sound for a
solid career.

Instead, her new album, The Body Wins, sees
her emerge from an admitted bright spot in a sea of lovely female folk
singers to a higher class on a loftier plane, alongside the likes of
Fiona Apple and the Tulsa-born St. Vincent. The latter makes perfect
sense, since they share producer John Congleton, who oversaw Jaffe’s

“He said I
needed to make a big step for me. He was right. I needed to make a
record that was a risk, and we did it,” she said. “He has this way of
getting into your brain and easing you just as much as he pushes you. It
took the record to the next level.”

quaint, acoustic melodies give way to crunchy electronic hooks, dirty
bass lines, dense arrangements and starkly darker and artier moments.

wanted a record that was big in every way. This is the record I’ve
always wanted to make, but I never knew how,” Jaffe said. “Fortunately,
this time I did.”

The transition was keyed by
a heavy bout with writer’s block that found her frustrated with the
guitar — long her instrument of choice. She hit up a pawn shop,
purchased a drum set and bass guitar, and began writing material.

“I had 100 songs to pick from, written when I was, like, 17,” she said of Nature. “I didn’t want to do that again. I just wanted to write solid songs that were reflective of where I was at now.”

Although she actively sought the change, the stark shift in styles — from a diary-style exposition to
more purposeful songwriting — didn’t always come easy. Neither did the
sonic changes.

was a time where I threw an internal fit,” Jaffe said. “I always
second-guess myself, as a person and an artist. I had those moments, but I
found a way to quit being such a brat and realized I can do whatever I
want. There was not point in not taking a risk.”

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