SARA MELSON // WILD & PRECIOUS LIFE
L.A.-based indie/folk-pop artist Sara Melson captivates with a unique and singular voice that cracks with vulnerability and pierces with clarity on her forthcoming EP, Wild & Precious Life. Sara has previously been featured at Variety, Huffington Post, Yahoo! Music, PopMatters, Magnet Magazine, the homepage of Apple Music, Blackbook, Wide Open Country, Glide, and more. She’s appeared in numerous films and TV shows, including The Wonder Years and Frasier, while her songs have been featured in Grey’s Anatomy and in a national Chevy campaign. Sara has shared the stage with Ben Folds, Juliana Hatfield, Ben Lee, Inara George, Neil Halstead, and Lissie, and provided backing vocals for Moby on The Tonight Show and for The Dandy Warhols and Mojave 3 on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Wild & Precious Life was co-produced by Melson, multi-instrumentalist/guitarist Danny Hechter (Badflower, Jordan McGraw) and Rick Parker (Lord Huron, Joseph Arthur, BRMC, Jeremy & The Harlequins). Hechter brought in bassists Sean Sobash (Dominic Fike) and Nick Diiorio (Jordan McGraw), drummer Jonas Streffer, second guitarist Jake Faun (Selena Gomez, Van Halen), and violinist Koi Anunta (Jules Galli). Violinist Kerenza Peacock (Adele) also added to the recordings, with additional production and remixing by Eric Breiner of PeachMusicLA.
Written and performed on piano and guitar, Sara’s songs reflect on hard-won lessons and her tireless journey toward self-acceptance. “It’s high time I learn to love myself before I’m dead,” she sings in the soulful and heartfelt “Coming Out” — a defiant, weary, and yet serene “I-don’t-give-a-f-ck” anthem for anyone who is ready to shed the mask and step fully into one’s authentic self. “State of Ease,” written in deep meditation, is a prayer for transcendence — the quest to maintain a state of equanimity in the face of life’s challenges. “No one can escape pain, physical or emotional,” she explains. “It’s about how we choose to react.” Ethereal and swelling vocals, haunting piano, and swirling guitar lines evoke the bliss of flight, peace and surrender. “Same River”, inspired by the quote from Greek philosopher Heraclitus, No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man, is a reminder that the only constant is change — in the fleeting, morphing moment.
With classical training at the age of eight, Sara began to gravitate toward the melancholy darkness of Chopin and the fanciful romanticism of Debussy. The daughter of two professors, she grew up in an intellectual Jewish household in a small college town in Indiana. Surrounded by cows and cornfields, her parents’ home was an oasis of culture and worldliness, with books lining the shelves from floor to ceiling, and the best record collection in the neighborhood.
She graduated from Harvard with an English degree and initially moved out West to become an actor. However, after one too many traumatizing “#MeToo” encounters, Sara went “on strike,” as she puts it. “I just refused to go out on any more meetings or auditions. I lived on residuals for a while and spent all day playing guitar and piano, and writing songs. That was when I decided I was going to take that turn from the acting into music. It’s not like that stuff doesn’t exist in the music industry, because it does; but at least you have creative control. You can stand behind a finished product — your song — and not have to rely solely on what you look like, or your perceived value, or lack thereof, as a sexual object.”
After a brief marriage to Justin Webb, son of famed songwriter Jimmy Webb, the loss of a pregnancy at five months, and an ensuing divorce, Sara struggled with depression, and turned to yoga for salvation, developing a serious daily practice that began to inform her songwriting with new revelations about surrender, acceptance, growth and change. It also slowed her anxious breath to a fluid wave. “Yoga is like peeling an onion, gradually removing layers that cover up your true essence. There may be some tears in the process, but it’s delicious, good for you, and worth it.”
The EP reflects Sara’s spiritual seeking, a deep understanding of her own mortality, and an urgency to make the most of life while she’s here. “Walk Softly” is a plaintive letter of life instructions, penned to herself, invoking the perspective of her older, wiser self advising its younger, more distracted and insecure counterpart: “Please be gentle, please be kind; you can’t read anybody’s mind. You don’t know what they’re going through. So don’t be quick to your defense, ‘cause we all hide behind pretense; and it’s got nothing to do with you.” Title track “Wild & Precious Life” inspired by the line in the Mary Oliver poem, The Summer Day (“Tell me, What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”) is a rousing, anthemic call to fulfill one’s full potential, despite the naysayers.
Sara will tour in support of the new EP, both solo and with a stripped-down version of her beloved band. She muses that, just as one can never step into the same river twice, her shows take on different forms. “There is a power in connecting one-on-one with an audience that is its own special magic,” Sara says. “Hearing my songs come to life around me with a full band is euphoric. They’re two different experiences, both for me and for the audience, and I live for both.”