• David Dark Explains

    Sarah's kind of going for it again. Not that she ever stopped. When I think about the pace with which she writes and sings and how it's only rarely accompanied by anything in the way of a signal flare, I recall a time when Prince, several albums back, decided to do a press conference. Someone asked him if his latest effort was a comeback album. "Comeback from what?" he offered back with a tired smile. It's not his problem that a few million folk haven't checked back in since Sign o' the Times. Who wants to live like that? Next question.

    Sarah isn't listening to her own life if she isn't writing songs. It's how she pays attention to herself and others. I labor over sentences and it takes me a sometimes embarrassingly long time. She disappears into an oversized closet and emerges with something completely remarkable an hour or two later. Sometimes she's already recorded it. 

    This has been our life together all along with the significant change being the recorded part. Many a kind heart will ask her if she's still making music. "Yes!" my mind screams as I remind myself that I wasn't the one who was asked the question. Her responses vary. She'll mention Bulb, but not everyone is shrewd or curious enough to ask for the elaboration that would take them into that magical, soul-enriching world. She'd likely share a song--I mean sing it--right there on the spot if someone was to ask her to and she knew they really wanted to sit still for it, but very few people seem to do that these days. How's this supposed to work for someone who generally resides to the side of the star-maker machinery behind the popular songs?

    Enter JT Daly. I met him at the Trash Humpers premiere at the Belcourt through our mutual friend Chris York. He started hanging around our domicile, introducing us to music, coming to softball games, eating pizza, and building Legos. "What does Sarah need?" he got to thinking. And Wendell Berry-like, communally-minded fellow that he is, he began to assemble microphones and speakers and other hardware from friends who weren't, for the time being, using certain forms of recording equipment to cobble together what we've elected to call Twin Pop Studio. It's sitting there right now. Minus speakers at the moment.

    So now we have songs, many songs, and they're beginning to surface. The opening salvo is The Trying Mark which comes to you via a couple of very kind collaborators. The first is Aaron Roche by whose music we've been amazed and nurtured since we first heard him do an Innocence Mission cover in the artists' space at DPC many moons ago (Sarah: "!Blur My Eyes really does soothe the savage beast in me."). He's in Brooklyn being awesome now, but he made time to mix the album and provide additional instrumentation and vocals. And there's also the matter of Matt Odmark. Sarah opened for the league of extraordinary gentlemen that is the Jars of Clay operation, Matt's decades-long gig, way back in the 20th century, and something came full circle when Matt offered his powers of mastering to The Trying Mark. We're intensely pleased with how it all turned out.

    Even as I busy myself writing about it, tweeting, playing it for students, or foisting mix CD's and playlists upon people, I still don't know the best way to urge the goodness upon people. I wouldn't remove a song or change the order, but if you were tell me you're only willing to sit quietly long enough to take in one song on the album (That would be kind of mean, by the way), I would refer you to "When Things Fall Apart" and trust that you might now feel compelled to take in the whole thing. And if you wanted to drop in a little something to maintain the current of the Get Fresh Flow...I think that'd be appropriate.

    That's about it. Sarah has a few specific words concerning the project's origins as well. Do please tell us what you think and talk it up as you see fit. Despite the risk of saturating the market, Sarah's playing a few shows in the weeks to come, and there's more music on the horizon. Stay tuned.

  • Origins of The Trying Mark

    On a Sunday morning in 2011 I found myself trying to convince my then 9 year old son to sit still and listen in church. The conversation was as routine as our attendance, and like most, it was recorded in a journal I kept in my purse. I wrote him this letter: 

    “Listening is opening your mind up to becoming a new, wiser, more loving person. I wonder what gift you will receive today, this morning, listening.”

    He proceeded to carefully draw the image on the cover of the album with the words “The Trying Mark” titled above it. Then he wrote this:

    I can’t care about it. (insert small version of trying mark here)*

    For two years I have had this confessional symbol before me as a kind of totem that returns my wandering energies toward center. The fear and frustration of “I can’t do my longing justice and feed my children” is somehow compassionately softened by the trying anyway at both, each day. As I have meditated on the symbol, words like “enough” and phrases like “I don’t know” steady me, redirecting my attention to that mystery within which I live and move and have my being. The songs in this collection point to that unknown country the trying marks. 

    June 2013

  • The Trying Mark Lyrics

    Dark Matter

    The light and so the view 

    Is barely getting through

    It’s one of those days

    When I can’t recall what blew us all away

    I’m trying to forget

    What hasn’t happened yet 

    Will happen anyway

    To those with love 

    And those of us with hate

    I’m trying to abandon things that I may never make

    The mystery within the sorrow and the end

    Who can pluck the sound

    Of the unknown chorus deep within the memory of God?

    The money for the fire/The work we hope inspires

    I won’t compare the two

    We are a family 

    Hoping, praying, love will happen through

    Trying to discern what will nurture what will burn

    Listening for the words our mouths have yet to shape

    Waiting to receive what we mustn’t try to take

    Trying to remain with what we cannot say.

    The Human Scale

    A beckoning

    The waterfall of everything

    A waking dream

    The miracles attention bring

    I’m not saying it will ever come

    I’m not saying we’re the only ones

    In multitudes factoring infinities

    In opposites never adding up to anything

    I’m not saying this will help someone

    But I’m not saying we are on our own

    I once knew a girl 

    Who carried the whole world in the small of her womb

    Somehow she made room

    A lying down

    The final chorus failure sings

    The trembling that is its own philosophy

    I’m not saying fear won’t find us out

    But I’m not saying we won’t laugh at all

    The Strangers

    How is it so?

    A man made for joy

    A man made for woe

    From chaos a coherence sown

    I yield to what I cannot know

    From darkness I come and I go

    A knocking unnerves the unknown

    Admit the intrusion

    I come at the wonder

    Of holding the love I let go

    Words without name

    Without song

    Unknown but played all along

    Beckon me into the hall

    I come with nothing at all

    Windswept beyond the beyond

    What has happened

    Is happening now

    This vocal vibration, an improvisation

    The risk and reception of song

    When Things Fall Apart 

    A family of artists

    A field of dreamwork

    The mirror of friendship

    The deep correlation

    The misunderstandings

    The darkness around us

    The beauty and terror

    The limits of language

    Lift it up

    The love and attention

    Of setting the table 

    Of sitting with anger until it becomes sadness

    The slow fascination with patterns and chaos

    With monsters and angels

    With improvisation

    Lift it up


    In a universe of chance

    In a world of dominance

    In a common circumstance

    In the kamikaze glance

    Lift it up

    The Way for Now

    For now I am a field in winter waiting

    This cold it is a shield

    No man, no plow, no seed will find its way beneath me

    For now I will not yield

    Alone listening for stories only Death remembers

    The listening is long

    My heart is empty as a tree in late December

    My limbs stripped of belief

    No loss somehow can keep my empty arms from reaching

    This longing will not yield

    Alone waiting for Silence to begin its healing

    The waiting is long