When Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz turns 23 later this month, it will mark the first full year of her professional career when she hasn’t also been attending the New England Conservatory of Music.
That freedom has allowed Jarosz to fulfill a lifelong dream and move from Boston to Brooklyn, and it’s also given her a chance to embark on a West Coast tour that brings her to the Tractor Tavern on Saturday, May 10.
“It’s definitely been a transition,” she said in a telephone interview. “I realized the whole time I’ve been playing music I’ve always been in school and it was a constant balancing act. I’m really glad I did go to school, but I’m also really glad it’s over.”
Jarosz started her career with “Song Up in Her Head,” just before her freshman year of college in 2009, and at age 18 she was lauded as a bluegrass prodigy. Four years, another well-received album later and no longer quite young enough to be considered a prodigy, Jarosz presented “Build Me Up from Bones” last fall.
The payoff from that tenuous balancing act is clear from the moment you hear Dan Dugmore’s searing lap steel guitar start to weave its way through “Over the Edge,” the album’s seductive title track that breaks into indie-rock territory.
Jarosz is maturing, but she’s showing no signs of growing pains. Some artists might have stumbled, incorporating new sounds, but Jarosz seems especially at home throughout her third studio offering. She shifts easily between the joyful traditional sound of Appalachia, lonesome country music (“Dark Road”) and a smart Bob Dylan cover (“Simple Twist of Fate”).
“I think it really took that full four years (of school) for a lot of the music that I was exposed to there to infiltrate into what I was doing,” Jarosz said.
Now that Jarosz, an Austin, Texas, native, is living in Brooklyn and is away from academia, she said not stagnating is a priority.
“Being in school automatically forced me into that world of challenging yourself every day with something new,” Jarosz said. “The post-school thing for me is to continue to find those situations and keep growing.”
Jarosz has played with bluegrass stars like the Punch Brothers, Chris Thile and Darrell Scott, so it’s fair to assume she will have no problem finding those chances.
“It’s an exciting journey,” she said. “I do feel lucky up to this point that I have been able to surround myself with really amazing musicians.”
8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; $20 (206-789-3599 or www.tractortavern.com)