Sarah Rogo is an acoustic folk artist spawning from the California folk scene who has just released Smoke And Water on September 13th.
Within this album, Rogo wears her own unique spin of her favorite music, ranging from Blind Willie Johnson to the folky shades of Led Zeppelin. Throughout Smoke And Water, Rogo is interested in finding influenced and fresh ways alike of expressing moods that are timeless. She features plenty of original songs, while also showcasing a few unique covers of songs that have greatly influenced her.
Smoke And Water kicks off with “Pieces”, a folky acoustic ditty that blends a balance of beauty and grit. This song particularly makes me think of a quote that Rogo herself said,
“The common thread in my writing is the dance between dark and light. I’ve learned to dance with my demons in a healthy way. Life is inherently hard, and the music has shown me how to navigate hardship and turn it into medicine.”
“Here Goes Nothing” is a piano ballad that sounds somewhat reminiscent of a Joni Mitchell song. This song evokes a mood of reflection amidst uncertainty of what’s in store for the future within a relationship, while also expressing a sense of anticipation in the moment. This song is comfort for the soul. The self titled track itself “Smoke And Water” features slide guitar work that showcases a sense of diversity within her musical abilities. I really enjoy the way this one gradually builds up. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is a cover made famous by The Shirelles. Within Rogo’s vision, it flows like a natural continuation of the wondering for what’s to come that had previously been featured in “Here Goes Nothing”. This is a truly beautiful cover that sounds like a Rogo original. It even features a clarinet bit, which further showcases Rogo’s musical diversity. “Run” sounds like the most intense and passionate moment of the album thus far. A song about running away when life gets tough. I really enjoy the passionate vocal performance on this one. It sounds full of energy and doesn’t shy away from connecting to the personal demons found within all of us.
“Jolene” is a cover of the classic Dolly Parton song. Rogo takes the Southern charm of this song and makes it completely her own. Rogo has shown a natural talent for doing this with classic songs. They sound as if they are completely original to her. “Love And Be Loved” is another piano ballad which is a testament to lovers fully being in the moment together. “Take Me To The Water” is a more upbeat rocker which also features some excellent slide guitar work. Really enjoy the extra touch of piano that went into this one. “Which Wolf” is a more haunting piano driven song. Really enjoy this one, especially the touch of having harmonizing vocals during the refrain. I really just enjoy the mystical mood this one evokes. “Voodoo Chile” is a fresh take on the classic Jimi Hendrix song. As with the other two covers, Rogo has a way of making this completely her own. I really enjoy what she does with this one, as it comes off like an original of hers.
Sarah Rogo is clearly someone who is and has always been passionate about music. She is intent on capturing a sense of instrumental diversity as well as leaving a soulful impression on her listeners. She captures a great sense of energy within a hauntingly beautiful sound. It’s no wonder she has caught the attention and even shared the stage with big names in the blues including Jimmie Vaughan and Joe Bonamassa. This is an album of wide appeal. It stems from the California folk scene but also has a strong taste for Southern gothic as well. Rogo is a musical artist who deserves ones full attention.