EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Richards was born in upstate Wisconsin, where she sang her way through grade school and eventually earned a music scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. After graduation, she headed east, landing a job teaching elementary schoolers in Connecticut. She missed her time onstage, though. Two years later, Richards packed up her classroom and moved south, this time finding a new home in Nashville.
SARAH LOU RICHARDS
When Richards moved to Nashville in 2007, she found a town full of songwriters, sidemen, and starry-eyed hopefuls. It was a competitive place. She dove in headfirst, writing a catalog of songs inspired by mainstream artists (Miranda Lambert, Bonnie Raitt) as well as left-of-center Americana singers (Ryan Adams, Brandi Carlile, Patty Griffin). She toured heavily, too, booking her own shows and building her fanbase show by show. During breaks in her schedule, she volunteered with organizations like Musicians on Call and Girls Rock Camp Alliance.
Her debut record, 2010's, Ruby Red Shoes, was produced by Henry Paul, frontman for the '90s multi-platinum country band BlackHawk. The album introduced Richards as a sharp, observational songwriter who straddled the line between country and modern pop — a distinction she continued whittling into sharp shape over the following years. By 2014, Richards' sound had won over fans like the Steeldrivers' Gary Nichols, who produced her third record, The Woman Behind the Curtain. An independent musician and savvy businesswoman, Richards funded the album via a PledgeMusic campaign, emboldening and enlarging her audience.
Someone Who Gets Me arrives in 2017. It's Richards' most personal album to date, full of original music written in celebration of her friend's wedding ("Love Always Wins"), her niece and nephew's births ("Jaidyn's Lullaby," "Song for Peaches"), and her own self-empowerment ("Soldiers Heart"). She whips up some convincing fiction, too, turning "The Fisherman" into a story-song about a water-worker and delivering "Plane Blue" from the perspective of a cuckholded man.
"After getting to know Sarah Lou, I discovered that she is so much more than just another alt-country gal," says producer Adrian Suarez. "She has an energy that can fill a room with joy but can also draw you in to a very tender moment — and countless shades in between. I wanted the world to experience that depth of SLR … and I think we achieved it."
Recorded in Minneapolis with Suarez and a multi-piece band, Someone Who Gets Me is Richards' strongest album to date, full of guitar, pedal steel, bass, drums, and overlapping layers of vocal harmonies. The kickoff track, "High on a Hill," even finds Richards working the chorus of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" into the final moments. Eclectic and expansive, the record widens Richards' sound while doubling down on her strengths. Sarah Lou Richards has never sounded more like herself … and Sarah Lou Richards has never sounded better.