Fredericton-born artist Sarah Kierstead has made time to explore songwriting over the past couple years. Her debut singles feature the same delicate minimalism that has defined her work as a photographer from the beginning. Have a listen.
The last time we heard from artist Sarah Kierstead, it was with the release of Pallmer’s 2020 single, Allude to What. A professional photographer and videographer, Kierstead created the video for this song recorded with Fredericton born musician Charles Harding and other members of the Electroacoustic Studies program at Concordia University.
Since sharing that project in the early days of the pandemic, Kierstead has shifted her creative work considerably, devoting more time to exploring her interest in songwriting.
“I try to write honestly and not gloss over pain, sadness, and fear, yet ultimately, my intent is for my writing to hinge on hope – even if it’s subtle or etched in the very last lyric,” said the Fredericton-born artist, explaining her latest creative endeavor.
“I want there to be cracks of light in the melancholy, some kind of relief for heaviness, not in a forced way for the mere sake of positivity, but because hopefulness in the midst of grief is my honest lived experience and I most often exist holding both at the same time.”
The way she describes her songwriting carries with it a number of parallels with her work as a visual artist. Both are built upon aspects of delicate minimalism and natural light, occasionally weaving in and out of focus as a means of capturing emotion and establishing connection with the viewer or, in the case of her latest creative path, the listener.
This month welcomed the release of Kierstead’s first two singles released under the name S. Kierstead. One For Sorrow and Sehnsucht were both recorded at Ocean Floor Studio in Halifax by Francisco Lopes and Shiftwork Studio in Fredericton by Dylan Ward, and produced, mixed, and mastered by Awolk (Jesse Thomas). Kierstead is joined on both songs by cellist Katie Bestvater with guitarist Kieran Smyth contributing the defining melody for One For Sorrow.
The beautifully melancholic One For Sorrow quickly establishes a direct line between Kierstead’s two creative worlds while revealing her ability to translate lyrical emotion with a similar weight to that which has long defined her work behind the camera.
“It is a parting song I wrote a couple years ago at a time when I was coming to terms with the knowing that a love I had been holding out for was far gone, that what we once shared wouldn’t be sustained in the long run. The first verse is more or less a memoir of moments we had spent together, and the second verse is of the will to go on. I couldn’t not hear cello in my head when I wrote this song on guitar, and it was truly a gift to have Katie Bestvaster play on the track.”
Both songs are available to purchase through the above links.