In terms of sound and miles, musician Sarah Pedinotti has ventured far from her roots.
And that's quite alright.
The Saratoga Springs native and Brooklyn transplant has gone from jazz to roots to indie folk and has come to a psych, pop-infused sound that’s layered with everything from classic to R&B. It shines through on her album, "D A Y S," which she's releasing under the band name Lip Talk.
“It took a lot of time and it wasn’t a straight line,” Pedinotti said.
It was years in the making, though Pedinotti doesn’t really measure time in years but in music.
The singer, songwriter, keyboardist, bassist and most recently, producer, grew up singing and performing in downtown Saratoga Springs, mainly at One Caroline Street, her family's restaurant and jazz bar which closed last year.
“I had a strange education in music. It was great but it was unconventional,” Pedinotti said.
Some might remember her first band as the Sara K. Pedinotti band, which changed its name to Railbird in 2008. Around that time, Pedinotti was also focused on getting a more traditional music education. She attended Schenectady County Community College, which she said really prepared her for her time at Berklee School of Music..
After graduating, she bounced between upstate and New York City, playing with Railbird and other musicians. But around 2011 she made Brooklyn her more permanent home. Thus, it became tougher to collaborate and play as frequently with her bandmates from Railbird and she started to work on more solo tracks, which is when Lip Talk came to be.
“I think I needed to do Lip Talk because it was a fresh start and a way for me to focus my writing, and for me to focus on being a producer and making my own music. As much as I love collaboration and collaboration is a big part of why I am where I am, I also really needed to express something as a solo artist,” Pedinotti said.
Even with the layers of contributing artists featured on “D A Y S,” Lip Talk is a solo project at its core. It’s the continuation of Pedinotti’s musical fabric and she really builds on it in her album, which Bandcamp put on its Essential Releases list last week.
“‘D A Y S’ is about the fluidity of identity and writing this was one attempt to face and maybe even embrace the fleetness and vulnerability of what it means to be alive here,” Pedinotti said.
Her days of singing at One Caroline Street can be heard on “Doublethink,” which starts with a sugar-sweet melody, played on the piano, and turns into a jazz celebration, featuring a saxophone solo by Alec Spiegelman.
The title references George Orwell’s “1984,” and is a commentary on society’s love/hate relationship with capitalism, said Pedinotti. Opening with mesmerizing piano and the lyrics “Don’t look too close,” it certainly feels Orwellian.
It plays off of “Ad Junkie.” She started writing the song when she was riding the subway and was looking at all of the advertisements. Not only on the sides of the subways but the platforms that were plastered with ads.
“There is a sense of invasion and insidious manipulation dealing with the capitalist underbelly of our social media use. I imagine that we are all being ‘swallowed up’ as genuine private space becomes a thing of the past and people become advertisement sponges or ‘ad junkies,’ ” Pedinotti said.
Between the guitar, bass, intensifying beats, and Pedinotti’s breathy voice, the song seems to envelop the listener.
Other songs on the album are more locally influenced, like one of the first singles to be released, “All This Light,” especially when it comes to the music video.
“Half of it is filmed upstate and half of it was filmed in Brooklyn,” Pedinotti said. Last summer, she worked with Mary Beth Besler, owner of Saratoga Dance Lab, to choreograph for the video and with Amanda Picotte, her cousin and longtime collaborator.
It features young dancers dressed in classic white leotards, swaying with the sound of the piano and dancing around the pools at Saratoga Spa State Park.
There are also two gymnasts from Schenectady, Alika and Ajani JacksonBergin, who created this improvised dance seen toward the end of the video, in a measured, yet graceful style that perfectly suits the song. Other scenes are shot at a 7 Eleven and a laundromat, as well as by the East River in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The video bridges her past and present, as does her album in some ways, using sounds from her past and a process that rings of her future.
When she first started working on “D A Y S,” Pedinotti was going to go the traditional route with the recording process. “I thought I was making a studio album,”
But once she got band members into the studio, things didn’t go quite right, due to technical and budgetary issues. It just wasn’t the sound she was going for.
Instead, she started to make a few demos, which she thought she was going to use the next time she got in the studio.
But as she worked on them, teaching herself producing programs like Logic, she started to rethink things.
“Eventually I built a whole new record, taking different ideas from years ago and turning them into little stories and songs, and I say stories also sonically. I wanted to paint a picture,” Pedinotti said.
While she did go back into the studio to finish it, what stands out is just how layered the sound is, which came out of newfound production skills.
“D A Y S” came out last Friday, though the artist is by no means taking a break. Pedinotti seems to be perpetually fine-tuning a lyric or phrase. When she’s not working on her own music for Lip Talk, she’s playing the keyboard in rock band Okkervil River or Kalbells, a band founded by Kalmia Traver, the lead singer of Rubblebucket.
Over the course of the next month, Pedinotti will be touring with Kalbells and opening shows with her own songs from Lip Talk, which will be her first time touring solo. While there aren’t any stops on the tour close to the Capital Region, Pedinotti said she’ll be performing on Monday, March 4, at Desperate Annie’s in Saratoga Springs and will be performing with a few other artists.
Pedinotti hopes to go back to her roots and play other Capital Region shows in the next few months. For more information on the album, including the vinyl version, visit liptalk.bandcamp.com.