Sarah Dunn, born and raised in southwestern, Missouri is anything but an ordinary artist. She’s extraordinary in the way she wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t stray from the honest and painful parts in her life that make her stronger. Her resilience resonates loud and clear in her music and that’s evident as she’s matured with every release.
Her new album Unbridle Me follows her 2016 EP Wild Wild Heart, and both have gracefully allowed Dunn to come into her own as an artist and an individual. The album is filled with raw pain, vulnerability and confidence. There’s a special kind of spark that is weaved throughout the entire album that can’t go unnoticed.
While there is much to be considered on the album like politics, relationships and personal tragedies, we can’t help but notice a sense of freedom to sing for the dreamers as well as the wanting to sing for the misunderstood and those who don’t have a stage to share their voices. With Unbridle Me, Dunn offers every listener an opportunity to listen and to relate on a personal level more than ever before.
We had the opportunity to talk with Dunn about her new album, liberation and what’s next for her musically.
Beyond The Stage: You grew up in southwestern, Missouri. How has your upbringing shaped your music up until now? How has it helped you let your voice be heard through the songs you write?
Sarah Dunn: The area I grew up in has such a rich, musical heritage. Even within my own family, there has always been a lot of bluegrass, country and music that tells a story. The storytelling aspect of the music I grew up is what’s influenced me the most.
BTS: You have a new single out, and it seems to kind of carry this theme of vulnerability and honesty. What’s special about this song that made you want it to be the leading single for Unbridle Me?
SD: This song has been the song I’ve been building up to for the last couple years now. When I got started in music, I wanted to release feel good songs that were uplifting and fun. But I haven’t had the opportunity to release something that showed the introspective side of my music and my personality. In my heart, building up to the release of Unbridle Me, I knew “Figure It Out” had to be the single.
It has the value of honesty behind it because it’s written from a universal experience of heartache. It’s an old theme but it’s kind of my take on it. Whenever I first played it for people, it struck a chord for so many, so that’s why I initially wanted to have it was a single. But I also wanted to show this different side of me with this song and I feel more confident to show a more serious side of myself now that I’ve shown the more fun side of myself.
BTS: Unbridle Me is such an emotionally raw, vulnerable but freeing album. Which, I know it touches up on a lot of topics like romance, politics, holding onto life things that matter. What song on the album do you think best represents where you are right now?
SD: It’s a combination between “Figure It Out” and the title track “Unbridle Me” because I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out my footing and where I’m headed so, I’m at that point now where I’m going through life changes with my music and relationships. There’s so many life changes happening for me right now that having gone through all that and have risen above the hard times, I feel that confidence that no matter what I say, I know I’ll be able to do it. It gives me a sense of freedom, which is something I’ve never truly have felt before.
BTS: You speak about liberation a lot on Unbridle Me. What’s been so liberating to you about writing this album?
SD: Firstly, I have only been sharing my songs for a few years now and everything I write comes from something personal but even so, it took me awhile to feel like it’s okay to be honest and vulnerable with music. But with this album in particular and all the radio support we’ve been getting, it’s helped me to boost that confidence and share things. It’s a liberating feeling and has given me a lot of hope.
Overall, I’m happy to have had a hand in this album with the recording process, being in the studio and writing these songs have helped with the underlying theme of confidence and liberation that I’ve been feeling.
BTS: “The Ballad of Ellie Nesler” is such a great track and probably one of the best on the album. What was it like writing that track and reflecting on her story?
SD: That track almost didn’t make it on the album. I was sitting around one evening and a show about crime was on TV and it was speaking about Ellie Nesler and her story. The rawness of her story and realness of what happened to Ellie and her family struck me so hard that I immediately sat down and started writing the song, trying to tell it in the musical format.
After I wrote it, I sat back and realized how dark it was. It’s a real story and it happened to real people, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cut it or not. Ultimately, it took me a push from my friends and family to put it on the album. You never know how a song is going to affect someone, which is what I’ve learned a lot over the years.
A few weeks ago, I heard from a family member of Ellie’s and it was such a positive response of saying thank you to me for keeping her story alive, and when I wrote the song, I was never expecting that to happen. Hearing from her was humbling and it felt good that they were so happy about it. All in all, I’m really happy I decided to put that one on the album.
BTS: Was writing every song on this album a conscious decision?
SD: Not really. I didn’t really have much opportunities to co-write with anyone because I’m still really new to the community here in Nashville. It’s what I had and it’s what I wanted to communicate with this album. But in the future, I think I will be working with a lot of writers. I’m always looking to grow as an artist and songwriter.
BTS: Do you have any touring plans coming up?
SD: I’m continuing to build radio relationship and the tour schedule is going to be really heavy for the next few months. I came into this year ready to work and connect with fans and those in the music community.
Sarah Dunn’s Playlist:
- Steve Miller Band
- Fleetwood Mac
Unbridle Me hits iTunes and Apple Music on March 17