Despite parting ways with Black River Entertainment earlier this year, she heads into this new chapter with a fresh perspective and "Little Umbrellas," her new breezy single that is unlike most summer-themed anthems. You can read my full review of the track (and listen to a live version) here.
Nashville Gab recently chatted with Darling about the inspiration behind the song, as well as her tour earlier this year with Scotty McCreery and her Carrie Underwood influence.
Nashville Gab: You have a new single called “Little Umbrellas.” What’s the story behind it?
Sarah Darling: You know, I wrote it a couple of years ago. I think what I realized is that I must have had a fight with my boyfriend at the time. [laughs] I usually don’t write those kinds of songs. It’s really funny that’s the one that popped up. I just love it because it’s fun. It’s three minutes of ‘you know what? Let’s just go to the beach, grab an umbrella drink, sit back and unwind from the day.’ It has that female Jimmy Buffett feel to it.
NG: Is the opening line, "Uh oh, he broke your heart. Girl, what you gonna do? Have a pity party in the dark?,’ an answer to the typical boy-bashing anthem?
SD: Yea, it’s just about empowering women a little bit to say ‘hey, don’t cry over this guy, who’s maybe treated you terribly. Go grab an umbrella drink!’ [laughs]
NG: You grew up in Iowa, correct? On a farm?
SD: I grew up on a farm, east of Des Moines, Iowa, called Mitchellville of about 3,000 people. I moved to Nashville 10 years ago...this month. So, I’m from a small town, and I knew very early on that I wanted to move [here].
NG: Is “Little Umbrellas” gonna lead to an EP or a full-length album?
SD: We don’t know yet. That’s the beauty of all of this. Even with a new record label, we’re definitely open to that. It’s [having] people that really believe in what you’re doing that can take you to the next level.
NG: When you first moved here, you were a waitress, right?
SD: I worked at this specific place for six and a half years. I had been there longer than some of the managers. It’s really funny. The reason I think why people ended up doing that [kind of work] is because it’s [an easy] way to get your shifts covered to go play a show. You can easily get your shifts covered working in the food industry.
NG: Your last EP “Home to Me” sold 125,000 copies. How does that feel?
SD: It was absolutely amazing. I think it shocked everyone at Black River even. It was just a great [success] story. Sirius XM The Highway blasted “Home to Me.” They’ve started to [play] “Little Umbrellas” even more. The sales for [that song] have been wonderful as well.
NG: What’s it feel like to have your fans connect to you and your music in such a way?
SD: I feel like that’s the whole point, you know? Writing songs and putting songs out there that actually relate to people [is the goal]. “Home to Me” was such a great song because it was about home and someone feeling like home, which everyone wants in their life. Everyone had a connection to that song. There were so many states mentioned, so everyone took ownership of the song.
NG: Who were your biggest influences growing up? Who did you grandfather introduce you to?
SD: He introduced me to Johnny Cash and a lot of gospel music. I was kind of all over the board. I listened to the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Patsy Cline. Then later, when Shania Twain came out, that’s when I really said ‘this is what I want to do.’ Shania was so cool. Everyone kind of came out at the same time. The Dixie Chicks, Trisha yearwood...this resurgence of all these amazing females. Now, I kind of get compared, vocally, to Alison Krauss, Sara Bareilles, LeeAnn Womack, more of that style [singer].
NG: As far as modern artists, who has inspired you the most?
SD: You know, our styles are completely different, but I think Carrie Underwood has inspired me the most. I think she’s just graceful and a really amazing artist, humble, sweet.
NG: Have you met her?
SD: Yes, I have. There’s something really refreshing about that. You see it onstage. She [came out onstage at the CMT Awards and was] her beautiful self.
NG: You were featured on "The Bachelor" this past season. What was that like?
SD: I think television is amazing to do for an artist. The fact that I got to sing for one of his [Sean Lowe] dates was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The date was Lindsay, and she was second place that [season]. Being on a real set was amazing. I got to go to Whitefish, Montana, which is maybe one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of like the old TV show ‘Northern Exposure.’ It’s perfection.
NG: You toured with Scotty McCreery earlier this year. How was that?
SD: Scotty is an incredibly sweet guy. His fans are amazing. Being from American Idol and interacting with those fans, that was the coolest part for me. I think it was a really cool pairing to put us together because we’re kind of the same personality. The actual tour was kind of laid back. Nobody got wild on the tour. Everything was really chill. [He had] an amazing crew. We played some of the most beautiful places, these 3,000 to 5,000 seat theatres.
NG: What was your favorite show on the tour?
SD: My favorite show was probably the Paramount in Indiana. I'd always wanted to perform there.
NG: What’s currently on your playlist?
SD: I love Kacey Musgraves’ new record. The Pistol Annies, of course. I listen to the Civil Wars, too.
NG: If you ever did a "CMT Crossroads," who would you want to collaborate with?
SD: I know Lady Antebellum already did this, but I’ve been compared to Stevie Nicks a lot. [I’d] definitely [want] Stevie Nicks. I think that would be crazy. That stuff is in my wheelhouse. That’s what I do the best.
Read the full interview here.
Photo Credit: Sara Kauss Photography