Sarah McQuaid’s ‘St Buryan Sessions’ Captures Live Play in a Medieval Church

[Cover photo credit to Magwan Lewis]

Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid has announced her sixth solo album release for October 15th, 2021. The St Buryan Sessions will arrive on CD, limited edition double LP, digital download, and via streaming services.

A new radio play track gives us a preview of what we can expect from the album with “Last Song”, though those familiar with McQuaid’s live sets will find it familiar since it’s long been a staple of her performances, tapping into plenty of emotion from a time when her children were young.

McQuaid comments:

“I wrote it back when I was still living in Ireland and my kids were toddlers — I used to try and fit in some guitar practice and get them to sleep at the same time by sitting and playing outside their room after I put them to bed, and it took me right back to when I was little and my mother used to do the same thing.

“I have such a clear memory of lying in bed, looking at the ribbon of light shining through the door and calling out requests for songs I wanted to hear. She’d answer “Are you still awake? Go to sleep!” And one night I heard myself saying exactly the same thing to my kids, and it was like my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth.

The track is offered as an “instant gratification” download with pre-orders for The St Buryan Sessions.

The creation of the full album began in the Spring of 2020, when McQuaid’s gigs were cancelled due to Covid. Taking the bull by the horns with a successful crowdfunding campaign, she was able to embark on a live solo recording (sans audience) in the medieval church of St Buryan, not far from her home in rural West Cornwall.

McQuaid’s longtime sound engineer and manager, Martin Stansbury, worked to capture the sessions, using ambient microphones placed throughout the church, as McQuaid performed songs that span her career. Two previously unrecorded covers also feature on the album: the classic jazz standard “Autumn Leaves”, and a cover of “Rabbit Hills”, written by friend (and past producer) Michael Chapman.

The recording was also filmed by Cornish filmmaker and director Mawgan Lewis of Purple Knif and the album release will be accompanied by a full concert video. A series of videos of individual songs have been released on McQuaid’s YouTube channel where you can also find Lewis’ short documentary The Making Of The St Buryan Sessions.

McQuaid will be launching the album on its release day, Friday, October 15, with a benefit concert in (and for) St Buryan Church. A six-week UK-wide tour will follow the album launch and continue through the end of November and a European and American tour are slated for 2022. 

She adds, concerning her adopted hometown,

“I’ve been living in St Buryan for fourteen years now, and it’s been incredibly heartwarming how my family and I have been welcomed into the life of the village. I kind of thought when we first moved here that we’d be shunned as ‘blow-ins’, but that hasn’t been the case at all, and I’m so grateful. I’m also incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to record the new album in such a gorgeous space, and I really wanted to be able to give something back.”

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