I remember my introduction to Rachael Yamagata was the song “Letter Read” off the 2007 album Happenstance. As I recall, I picked it up after reading that Zach Braff was a big fan. To this day I trust his musical tastes, but I was left a bit cold by the song.
To me, it seemed like she wasn’t really being herself. The opening half of the track sounds like a Fiona Apple song that got left on the Tidal cutting room floor, and when the driving second half kicks in, I’m reminded too much of songs by Michelle Branch or Vanessa Carlton. “Letter Read” isn’t a bad song, but it isn’t a great one, either.
So, when my friends at BB Gun asked me if I wanted to check out the new single off of Yamagata’s upcoming self-released album, I was a bit skeptical.
I’m happy to report that my initial fears were unwarranted. “Starlight” is far more original than Rachael’s previous work. Her voice has gone deeper, and the track does a nice job of balancing her vocals with a beat that keeps the pace brisk. Her songwriting has never been an issue for me, just the way the final product came out. This track seems to fit wholly into her vision (which I don’t think was the case on her previous releases). It’s still pop music, but it’s pop music that’s smart and worth your time.
Check out “Starlight” for yourself below. I would say it’s a bit like Liz Phair as produced by Jon Brion (the producer here is John Alagia).
Rachael’s new album, Chesapeake, is due out October 11th from Frankenfish Records.