Country artist Sarah Darling made an impact on the Country Music scene with the release of her 2012 single “Home To Me,” which hit the top 40 on the Country Songs chart. This week, the Iowa native returns to the American musical world with the release of her new song “Wasted,” which Billboard is excited to bring you a first listen to.
Though it’s been a while since she’s had new music out, Darling’s been far from idle — making quite the name for herself overseas. “I married an Englishman about five years ago, and about three years ago, I went across the pond and played the C2C Festival,” she says. “The connection that I had with the fans was incredible, so I kept popping over there the last few years. I am about to headline my own tour over there, which is incredible.”
What are the differences between American audiences and those abroad? She says that both love music, but perhaps because coverage of the format isn’t as prevalent in the U.K., they hang on every word and lyric. “I think that when you go across the pond, my experience is that it’s something that is so new and different that people hang on every word – especially in the U.K.,” she explains. “People love the storytelling element of country music, and the real stories that we might take for granted [in America]”
Darling shares a story to back up her claim: “I did an ‘in the round’ tour with a couple good friends of mine. I went to Birmingham and played ‘Where Cowboys Ride,’ which is one of my favorite tracks I have ever written. Everyone would sing the lyrics back to me, which blew me away. I had never played there before.” She adds that the new release also has performed well when she has done it live. “People would come up to me and tell me how the lyrics of the would really touch their life. It’s a sad song, and a story song about addiction that is quite personal to me.”
Of the song’s origins, she relates that she “wrote it seven years ago with Josh Osborne and Marc Beeson. It happened after having a phone call with a family member who called me in the middle of the night saying that their relationship was in shambles because of alcoholism. Of course, with me being the songwriter who had a co-write the next day, I ended up writing the song. It’s the story of a person who is being completely wasted in the relationship and invisible when they could be such a beautiful thing.”
She says the song had to simmer a while before she came up with the right creative surrounding for it. “I did a demo of it about seven years ago in very much a power ballad / anthem kind of way. It didn’t feel quite right, so I stopped playing it because I wasn’t really connecting with it. Then, last year, I was out on the road and started playing it a different way. People started responding to it really well, and asking why I hadn’t released it. So, I completely changed the way it was presented, and now I feel like the song is like it’s supposed to be.”
Producing the new single — and forthcoming album from Darling — is highly respected music producer Mark Bright, who agreed to work with the singer after hearing her most recent disc, Dream Country. “He just loved how uniquely me it was, and we decided to work on a few songs together,” she recalls. “We started the making of an album. He just let me be me in the production. He was so careful in the studio. He didn’t want anything to overpower the lyric and my voice. I’ve learned my voice over the years. It’s not a powerhouse voice. It’s got nuances. He was very careful in letting all of that be heard.”
Now, she’s ready for that voice to be heard with a worldwide splash. “Over the last year, I’ve built a great relationship with Radio Disney and Spotify — CMT has also been supportive as well,” she says. “I feel like the release of ‘Wasted’ is going to be a worldwide experience, which is going to be a lot of fun… I think that every experience has taught me so much about myself — from being signed to being independent. I think I’ve got to be really creative over the past few years, and I can’t wait for the people to hear it.”