Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen
Athens songwriter Thayer Sarrano will play an album release show for her fourth LP, Wings Alleluia, Friday at the Caledonia Lounge. Sarrano, who labels her sound as “dream-doom shoegaze gospel,” says it has taken her years to find her musical center, and after living and playing in Athens for years, she finally feels confident in who she is as an artist.
“I’ve always written the same way, and I’m essentially the same person as when I released my first album,” Sarrano says. “Now, I can communicate what it is I want to hear outside my head.”
Sarrano has released a first single from the album, “Grace Goes On,” along with a lyric video to accompany it. “Grace Goes On” opens with a distinct twinkling noise that is the result of a Chimeatron before the sound shifts to a pop mode. Sarrano’s lyrics are abstract and emotional, and her breathy vocals give each track an ethereal edge.
Although Sarrano says she is not religious, there is a spiritual theme throughout Wings Alleluia, which also includes songs titled “O My Soul,” “The Eternal” and the title track. The reference to a higher power is a theme that has been prevalent in Sarrano’s music since her first album, and her songs are often described as hymnlike.
In keeping with the gospel theme, Sarrano recruited the traditional vocal ensemble Athens Cowboy Choir to sing on Wings Alleluia. The choir sang arrangements written by Sarrano that were recorded at Normaltown Hall. Sarrano says it was a match made in heaven.
“All the songs with the choir on them are my favorites,” Sarrano says. “It’s a dream come true to have my choral arrangements come to life. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to ask.”
The Cowboy Choir is one of many features on the album, which also includes T. Hardy Morris, Justin Collins, Parker Gispert, Billy Bennett and others.
Sarrano started playing piano at the age of 3, and by the time she was in college, she could play pedal steel guitar, oboe and percussion. When she wrote her first song and brought it to one of her friends to sing, they told her she should learn to sing it herself, and this is how her solo music career began.
Sarrano says she never would have started making music if it weren’t for the people she met in Athens and the music community that exists here.
“I’m inspired living here, running into my heroes everywhere I go,” Sarrano says. “There’s such an open creative community where people are supported because they’re being genuine and making what they need to make.”
Though Sarrano has toured with Drive-By Truckers, Cracker, Television, The Whigs and others, her tour in support of Wings Alleluia will feature Sarrano as the main draw. She and her band will kick off the tour in Athens before traveling to Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York and returning back home.
Sarrano says she’s excited to play these new songs for old fans, calling them a complete shift from her previous work.
“This album feels very hopeful and loving to me, which I think people will enjoy, since the last one was pretty dark,” Sarrano says. “I’m happy to be able to sing about the lovely, transcendent experiences I’ve had.”
THAYER SARRANO Local songwriter playing hazy, shoegaze-inspired Southern rock. Album release show! See story on p. 13.
ATHENS COWBOY CHOIR All-star vocal ensemble featuring members of various local bands singing songs from the old frontier.
DON CHAMBERS Longtime local favorite who delves into pastoral folk and experimental rock with equal passion.