Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

Sara Jean Kelley

The Waiting Place


Perhaps the role of Nashville as Music City, USA has been altered since the roots of American folk music were cultivated there, but it continues to produce hard-working and passionate musicians writing songs that reference tradition in a contemporary way, all the while transcending the broken pop machine perpetuated by mainstream country radio. Sara Jean Kelley is a testament to Nashville-born songwriters driven by the music in their hearts and the environment of a city built on a musical foundation. With her debut EP The Waiting Place, Kelley's inspiration from growing up and attending school in Nashville as well as her experience in Colorado (where she took in the abundant wildlife) inform a thoroughly enjoyable and solid set of tunes.

Although a young artist, Kelley has already attracted attention from a wide audience. Perhaps this is thanks to her mother Irene Kelley, an already established singer-songwriter in the Nashville country and Americana scene, but there's more to it than that: she has shared the stage with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Pure Prairie League, and Rodney Crowell. Her lead single "Trains" was written with Will Kimbrough who formerly played guitar for Harris; he also produced The Waiting Place along with help from Dave Coleman of The Coal Men. Kelley's appeal is aptly summed up by Jon Kerr of New York Minute Magazine: "If you have ever wondered what it would sound like for Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash to write a song together over a few beers, you have not heard Sara Jean Kelly. Her voice is soulful and smooth, and just rough enough around the edges." 

Recommended Tracks: #3 "Trains", #4 "Free", #6 "Waiting Place"

Sigmund Steiger

Quick Links:

More reviews tagged #Folk

  • reviewed 10/2012

    Music City USA and Other Ghost Stories

  • reviewed 01/2010

    The BQE

  • reviewed 11/2009

    One Fast Move or I'm Gone

  • reviewed 05/2006

    Neil Young
    Living With War

  • reviewed 02/2014

    Dirk Powell
    Walking Through Clay

  • reviewed 02/2016

    On and On
    And The Wave Has Two Sides

Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.