I’d like to be the first to let you know that Chicago’s best-kept, not-so-secret, utterly amazing Rachel Ries (MySpace) has new record out now. I wrote so much about Rachel’s debut, For You Only, over the last year or so that I’m sure that that record became Songs:Illinois’ most written about release. Expect the same for the rest of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 with Without A Bird.
I’ve been listening to it for weeks, but continue to hear new things in Rachel’s classically trained voice, in the beautiful analog recording, and in the sparse yet perfectly aligned backing band. It’s hard to sum up any great songwriter in just one or two sentences, but for me Rachel’s songs are such a marvel of simplicity and restraint. Each lyrical phrase is usually just right, and when it is so carefully and fully enunciated in her vocals it’s a joy to behold. The songs on Without a Bird are not radically different than from those on her debut. They mostly deal with the pain and yearning usually as the result of a man (“When Will You Be Mine”), or portraits of her adopted hometown through the ideas of a girl from the prairie (“Chicago”), or some combination of both (“Fine, I’m Fine”).
Those of you reading this blog are probably the first to hear about this release, and the first to be given the opportunity to buy it. If, as my stats imply, there are a whole bunch of you checking in daily to sample these songs I post, then I hope a large percentage of you will visit Rachel’s Myspace page and buy the new record.
“Fine, I’m Fine” only uses a couple of instruments (cello, drums, and a Stella guitar) but the emotional impact from those instruments and Rachel’s voice, at times whispered, and at times soaring, is spine tingling music at it’s best.