Roots of emotion

Sarah McQuaid
Sarah McQuaid

Sarah McQuaid is a worldy woman.

Born in Spain, raised in Chicago, musically inspired by Ireland - among other places - and now living in Cornwall, McQuaid has absorbed all these places and cultures in her sound.

Yet, somehow, she manages to fuse all these sounds into just one instrument - the guitar.

“I mostly just play guitar but I tune it to DADGAD tuning, which allows me to do a lot on the guitar and it means I can echo my voice with strings. In my case, voice and guitar work in tandem with one another, it’s not a case of the guitar accompanying the voice.”

And yet, with this limited weaponry, McQuaid manages to explore the nuances of human emotion.

And nowhere is this more evident than her forthcoming album, Walking Into White.

Th critically-acclaimed work is one of McQuaid’s most personal albums to date.

“One of the songs is about my daughter and I guess you can’t get more personal than that and the opening song, Winter Sun, is about looking back on life and realising all the things you have done wrong.”

But while these reflections sound painful, McQuaid says that song enables her to escape it.

“It’s so cathartic to be able to write a song about the way you are feeling and in a way that enables you to put it to bed. You can shelve that problem once you’ve written about it.”

However personal, McQuaid says her ditties still have universal appeal. “I often have people come up to me after a show saying ‘I feel exactly the same’ and I like that, it’s good that people can relate o the songs.”

And even though the problems might be ‘shelved’ in the guise of a song, that doesn’t mean she’s invincible.

“I have been known to cry on stage. There was one time when I was touring the second album and I have been away from home for a long time and this little toddler was running around near the front and she reminded me of my daughter. I had been away so long I had a tear rolling down my cheek.”

While emotional, however, the new album is cutting-edge in its production values.

“I recorded with Adam Pierce and he was great at pushing me and trying out different techniques.”

And this week, the self-taught guitarist and songwriter brings her moving repertoire to

the Roots Music Club, Doncaster on November 7.