“Delancey Street”, the new album from New York City producer/singer/songwriter Rachael Sage, takes its name from one of the most well-known, animated, and colorful streets in downtown New York City. No doubt, the celebrated street has been the source of countless inspirations. Ms. Sage’s music, in turn, feels like the creative end result of the artist’s countless inspirations, from her native New York City and beyond. The Award-winning performer may be one of the hardest-working (and, with nine albums since 1995, one of the most prolific as well) women on the indie music scene, but she can still convey unblemished, pure romanticism better than most of her younger peers. Like the Street of the album’s title that bridges the borders (and cultures) of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Sage’s distinctive voice– characteristically breathy and ethereal– bridges the personas of wide-eyed child and knowing woman of the world. The first track, ”Hope’s Outpost”, features Sage’s smart and sassy delivery alongside the song’s vibrant, almost tense rhythm… adorned with trumpet, flugelhorn, and even harmonica. “How I Got By” and “Back to Earth” are delicately grand and far-reaching. As with her previous music, Sage boasts expert production values on “Delancey Street“ (Twenty-two [!] musicians and background vocalists are credited.), but the music is remarkably free of any musical gimmickry. Astute listeners will soon realize that Sage doesn’t need any. She has written 12 mid-tempo tracks that display her voice and her lyrics quite well without special effects, unless you count her piano craftwork (especially fine on the title track) or the expertly moody touches of cello throughout the entire album. And, while we’re on the subject of lyrics: It’s not an understatement to say that Sage is proving to be one of the great lyricists of her generation. Strip away the music, and what’s left is pure poetry. Check out these lyrics on the superb “Arrow“:
“Whoever showed me the bill o’goods,
That you had to be lonesome to suffer for your art;
Should be gently scarred, should be torn apart
With an arrow, straight through the heart,
With an arrow, the prettiest dart…”
“Everything Was Red” and the title track “Delancey Street” prove to be poignant love songs. Never before has longing and/or desire– spoken or unspoken, and in varying degrees of intensity– sounded so tantalizingly passionate. That includes Sage’s occasional exploration of heartbreak; Apparently, the unblemished romanticism I spoke of earlier is not without its occasional emotional challenges. A true gem is the upbeat “Big Star“ (which deserves to be a “Big Hit“…), in which Sage turns it out with some welcome abandon; she’s clearly having fun with this track. Her observations about the rise to fame, while playful, are truly dead-on. (“Do you wanna be a big star, well? It‘s OK to say ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes‘; Do you wanna do the rock and roll beauty scene? You‘re never gonna get your rest, rest, rest…”). In addition to her 12 original tracks, Sage also gives us a stark, stripped-down, almost haunting version of the 1980 hit “Fame”, as well as a cover of Hall & Oates’ 1977 classic “Rich Girl”. With her choice of covers, as well as “Big Star“, we‘re inclined to think that she’s making a statement about fame and success. Regardless of the message she intends, you’re guaranteed to hear some new dimensions in her Sage-esque interpretations.
In one of the lines from the second track, “There Is Passion“, Sage declares, “There is passion, in everything I do…” “Delancey Street” is no exception.
Visit www.RachaelSage.com for more!