I love lots of different kinds of music and I especially like hearing new music from singer song writers, whether they be new or established in the music industry. I recently had the opportunity to interview New York musician, singer, songwriter, visual artist and the all round super talent that is Rachael Sage about her latest album, Choreographic and her UK tour of the same name. This is the second time I've reviewed and interviewed Rachael and her single Coloring Book is one of my most listened to songs on my iPod.
Coloring Book is what I call a happy tune and has a clear visual theme and Choreographic continues in the same vein. Rachael says the album was inspired by dance (she has a background in ballet and her music has been extensively featured on the reality show Dance Moms) but also refers to visual art, ie the graphic. The first track is titled Heaven is a Grocery Clerk and as a lot of the lyrics refer to visual art I assumed she was talking about her own work. However, the painting and art sung about is by an artist called Riki Chen. Rachael said of the song "he's [Chen] kind of a kindred spirit, he went through some really tough times and bounced back but even through the tough times he never stopped creating. He told me a story that when he was homeless and hungry, heaven to him was once a grocery store clerk." The song has a dark undertone but ultimately, the listener feels uplifted. Another song that has a darker undertone but uplifts the listener is I Don't Believe It:
On one hand, the lyrics talk to us about someone fighting against the 'you can't do it, you're not good enough' mentality but the upbeat melody pushes against that, resulting in a song that leaves you feeling on top of the world: I CAN do this, rather than I can't. This feeling is reinforced by the beautiful video. Rachael said of this video "Kaci King, the dancer in this video has such musicality and it was so exciting to see what she could bring to the song". Looking at this video you can see how well the music conveys emotion through contemporary ballet as well as jazz and modern dance.
Choreographic also sees Rachael's first ever song writing collaboration, on Home. On asked why this is the first co-write of her career, Rachael says "that I have never been one to write collaboratively, it's not been what I wanted to do. In this case, a young girl from Dublin was in New York and sad she wanted to write a song with me. We had lunch, learned about who she was. She's passionately into music and we bonded on home being a place where you feel accepted for who you are". The resulting track is beautiful, speaking about the joys and difficulties of home and being away from home so much - the life of a touring musician!
I spoke to Rachael at the end of her UK tour - don't worry, she's back for a few more dates at the end of October - and wondered about differences between US and UK audiences. Rachael answered "[UK] audiences listen so beautifully, I love playing here. The main differences are in interaction after the show. UK audiences treat you like they've known you all their lives, they don't get in your personal space. The British are great conversationalists". This description of a British audience is extended towards what on the face of it might be a tough audience: school children. Many of Rachael's shows are in adult only venues and to counter this, Rachael and her band performed and created workshops for young people in schools around the country. Thee show were conceived as an alternative to multiple radio interviews and, according to Rachael, were " a lot less crazy than radio. It was interesting for the teachers to see the students interacting with us, at first they held back but became very exuberant, even the older kids". That's some achievement Rachael!
If you like songs that tell a story then Choreographic is for you. The album flows effortlessly through a variety of emotions but ultimately leaves the listener feeling upbeat. It's also great to move to, whether that be dancing, running or walking!
Rachael Sage is appearing in London at the end of October - click here for details.
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