For their third album together, roots artist/songwriter Sarah Jarosz and engineer/producer/label exec Gary Paczosa cut all of the tracks in Paczosa’s personal studio in Nashville. Jarosz, who was still in college at the New England Conservatory while she was making the new album, would head down to the studio during school holidays, either to record live with her trio (Jarosz, cellist Nathaniel Smith and fiddler Alex Hargreaves) or to develop musical ideas with Paczosa on her own.
“Sometimes we’d start with just her and an instrument—whether that was a mandolin, guitar or banjo,” Paczosa says. “We’d keep running through a song until we had a tempo and key that felt good and we were ready to cut a pass with her playing and singing a scratch vocal.” Then, more instruments would be added, including parts by guest musicians such as Jerry Douglas and Darrell Scott.
“A lot of times, once we got a band on it, the feel of the track or the energy changed, so then we’d go back and cut a new vocal,” Paczosa explains. “Sometimes the scratch vocal holds up, but often she would want another shot at it with so many other exciting things on the track.”
Jarosz’s voice was captured with a Blue Bottle mic, into a Mastering Lab pre, GML compressor and just a touch of Retro Sta-Level, before going into Cubase. “I also always put up a garbage mic next to the Blue Bottle or below it, and that would change on every song,” Paczosa says. “Even if I don’t blend in [the garbage mic], I’d still use it as one of the sends into effects, just to make her voice a little grittier. She’s a pure, sweet singer, but we added a bit of an edge.”
Check out this video of Sarah Jarosz talking about working with Gary Paczosa.