As people around the world self-isolate due to the COVID-19 crisis, it seems that a certain instant wistfulness has gripped many people as they long for the places they used to frequent. But antifolk singer-songwriter Sarah Gargano was already in that mindset even before the lockdown, with nostalgia serving as the main inspiration behind My Travel Diary, her EP that’s being released on April 13.
Videos by American Songwriter
“London,” the exuberant lead single, is premiering on April 8, and it sets the exploratory tone for the rest of the EP. “Each song is based on a different city in Europe I’ve traveled to in the past couple of years – London, Verona, and Vienna,” Gargano says.
But as with many of Gargano’s songs, there’s an unexpected twist with “London,” as the lyrics capture a kind of “predictive nostalgia”: “I wrote this song a couple months before moving to London,” Gargano says, “so maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but living in London did feel as magical as I imagined it to be when I wrote this song. The city is so big and there is endless opportunity – musically, socially, and of course with its endless vintage markets and men with accents.”
Gargano demonstrated this keen eye for detail with her 2018 debut EP, “Paper Girl.” Even before that, though, she was songwriting and performing during her high school years in her native New York City. Her highly melodic acoustic-based songs consistently feature insightful and introspective lyrics that often tackle unusual subjects. For example, another track on the EP, the solemn “Murdered Angels,” was inspired by her grandmother’s experience fleeing Vienna because of the Holocaust.
In addition to pursuing a music career, Gargano is also majoring in creative writing and sociology at Oberlin College in Ohio, so perhaps it’s no surprise that she’s so deft with her descriptions of people and places.
For now, Gargano is self-isolating in New York, but she’s already planning where she’ll go once restrictions are lifted. “I’m the kind of person who is restless and never satisfied,” she says. “I’m always dreaming about the next place I want to travel and escape to, often wishing I could run away from wherever I am and start over somewhere else.
“I’m sure this is also part of being a writer, but I feel like I am often either living in the past or the future,” Gargano continues. “But in London, I felt really present the whole time, and wanted to stick around, even for the bits that were tricky.”
With “London” chronicling Gargano’s growth as a songwriter (and as a person), it will be interesting to watch what she’ll experience – and write about – when she’s able to seek out her next adventure.