Rachel Ries was one of the first traveling indie female singer-songwriters that I remember playing on the Cafe Paradiso stage. That was right around the time I was figuring out that this was a thing that people could do, travel around and sing songs. I was in awe of her deft finger-picking and how her voice could flutter and fly, plus she was so generous and approachable, I still have and use the little pre-amp box she recommended to use for recording from mic to computer, back when I asked her how she made some demo disc she had at her merch table.
When I heard she was coming back to Cafe Paradiso with her band for a CD release party, I shot her an email asking if she wanted to do an interview or at least send me the songs to play on Lyrical Venus ahead of time. She said yes to both and sent me a press link to download Ghost of a Gardener.
I pressed play and the hairs on my arms stood on end. This was the Rachel I knew and loved from way back, but fully realized, grounded and settled and soaring all at once. I felt like I was finally getting to hear what I never knew was missing, but must have always been playing in her head all along. Horns! Strings! Keys! Drums! And not just for show, not to be fancy. Every note and nuance was there so that the songs could be their truest, best selves.
Not that those songs aren’t also great with just Rachel & guitar, as I heard them a few months ago on her last time through town. But on Saturday, 2/15, she’s coming with her band, so you’ll get a chance to hear the full frock-rock glory! Here’s a little sample of Rachel’s song Willow with a band:
If you are reading elsewhere, you may need to come to the blog to see the video.
We had a lovely talk about the new album, and Rachel’s journey of the past several years, where she first gave up music for a while altogether, from not even singing in her kitchen over the dishes, to realizing that she really did need it in her life, and finding her way back to a life in music, one more sustainable, true, messy, delightful and real.
Part of what I love about Rachel is her commitment to the full tactile, sensory experience. She knows there are still those of us who want something to hold in our hands. So not only is this album on CD and mp3, you can also get it on vinyl! She also has as t-shirts, as well as made a batch of several flavors of her lovely jam, that all feature absolutely gorgeous, coordinated artwork. Check out the cover by Erica Williams:
The album official release date is February 18th, but she will have it at shows before then (like the one at Cafe Paradiso on 2/15 – get your tickets now Fairfielders!), and you can pre-order it and get a free download track right away.
Head over to RachelRies.com for tour dates, photos, song streams, pre-ordering Ghost of a Gardener and more.
Tune in to Lyrical Venus Radio, on KRUU-LP 100.1 FM, Wednesday, February 12th, 9-10am Central Time US for a set of Valentine-y themed music followed by the interview with Rachel at about 9:20-ish.
UPDATE 2/18/14: Click here to listen to an archive of the interview.