Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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Sound Circuit

Sara Routh: Making it click


There is an adage that says you do not become a great writer without first being a voracious

Sara Routh plays Gas Lamp on Friday, Sept. 4, at 9 p.m.

Sara Routh plays Gas Lamp on Friday, Sept. 4, at 9 p.m.

reader. Similarly, I am convinced that one does not become a great songwriter without first living voraciously.

Sara Routh, the 38-year-old Norwalk native, is a heck of a songwriter, and now she is back in her native state to share it.

“I’d been gone for 15 years,” she said, looking back on a life that has already taken her around the world. “I’d lived in New York and Shanghai. Did L.A. twice, played in all the big clubs there. I’m not scared of the scene there, but I wasn’t learning anything new. It was time to come home.

Prep Iowa

“I wanted to come home and be able to support the people who supported me for so long. I grew up with James Biehn and the guys in the Nadas and the Locker boys.”

Routh is part of a deeply talented family. Her parents met while playing in a jazz band together, and each family member plays an instrument. Routh started on the clarinet, but it quickly became apparent that her most gifted instrument was built in.

“By middle school, I was getting vocal lessons, singing Brahms in German,” she recalls. “That led to attending Simpson, which was where I finally pulled the guitar out and started playing. That’s when I really started thinking, ‘I’m more than just opera.’ It wasn’t anything conscious, it was more of an innate growth. It was kind of like a tree; it just knows its journey.”

But Routh’s journey would take almost another full decade and a lot of frequent flier miles to find the person she is now.

“When I moved out to L.A., I was going to be the next Sarah McLachlan,” she said. “When I put a band together, I thought, ‘I have this big voice, so let’s be Janis Joplin.’ That was fun for a while. Then I left and went to China and did the same thing. Drank too much. Smoked too much. Went through a divorce. I came back, and a friend told me ‘When you do your shows, it’s more important for your audience to connect than to be blown away by this big sound. The small ‘woah’ will always be more important than the big ‘WOW!’ That stuck with me. That made things click.” CV



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