Sara Jackson-Holman goes track-by-track through “When You Dream,” sets local CD-release show

Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:22 am by Ben Salmon

By now, you are probably becoming familiar with the name Sara Jackson-Holman, if not from my feature article on her way back on New Year’s Day, then from the press clips she’s piled up since. Most impressive is this review of the release show for her new album “When You Dream” that appeared on The Oregonian’s online arm (and perhaps in print, I’m not sure), plus this preview and review from Portland alt-weekly Willamette Week.

Indeed, when you are a preternaturally talented singer and songwriter with a distinctive sound (Norah-esque classical+jazz+pop), a compelling backstory (from MySpace comment to record deal) and an affiliation with a credible label (Expunged, home to Blind Pilot), the press will take notice. But why listen to the press? (Don’t answer that.)

A few weeks ago, Frequency asked Jackson-Holman to jot down some thoughts and feelings about each track on her debut album, “When You Dream,” which came out May 25. Below you’ll find her insights on the origin of some songs, the meaning of others, and a quick update on her plans for the summer, including the just-confirmed date of her local CD-release show!

these songs are all little fragments of me, from my imagined and real worlds.

“Come Back to Me”
a story of lost and found.

“Into the Blue”
i feel like this is everyone’s song — a story about humanity and what regret feels like. it’s the second song i wrote. i think to perform at strictly organic’s open mic (in bend).

this is about what we do with our vulnerability. how we cope with our fragility.

“When You Dream”
my personal favorite on the album. it’s a quiet, yet insistent demand for love. i was feeling wistful … and you know the feeling, that sort of yearning, to know if someone is thinking of you? missing you? that is how i felt, all the while wandering in and out of daydreams and the landscapes that fill my head.

“Red Ink”
kind of the frenzied, all encompassing feeling of being trapped. i was on a bike ride when the lines came to me, and i remember repeating them over and over til i got back to my room and scribbled them onto a piece of paper. i think it was the beginning of what was to be a long winter. it was all gray — clouds perpetually lingered above the tall ponderosas, and i suppose this general gloominess, the cold, the impending five month winter came through in this song.

“My Thorny Romance”
written after one of my closest friends got engaged

“California Gold Rush”
unrequited love.

“Maybe Something’s Wrong”
the uncertainty of things ending. my first song i wrote, when i was nineteen, playing my upright yamaha piano and looking at the wind filtering through the trees.

“To Anna”
written for the girl i grew up with. she asked me one day to write a song about us and our childhood, and i did.

“Let Me In”
entirely autobiographical — about longing, and wanting in.

“Train Ride”
i love trains. i ride them back and forth from school, and was inspired by the changing seasons passing outside the big glass windows.

in general, i write songs pretty quickly.

when i first started writing, i’d just let a song come to me. usually i’d have lyrics first — things i would think of while in class, while eating dinner, while walking.

about half of the songs i wrote in the time period between when anthony (from expunged records) initially wrote me in june to when i started recording in august. the last half was a bit harder to write, mostly because at that point i was writing more specifically to fit what i felt were the album’s needs. some of these took more time, as i feel like it’s easier to write a piano part around lyrics, rather than the other way around.

Now, the news: Just today, Jackson-Holman told me she has set a local CD-release show for July 5 at The Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend. Put that one on your calendar, folks, because I’ve an inkling that Jackson-Holman’s profile will be even higher the next time she’s home from college for summer break.


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