Previously based out of Brooklyn, Rachel recently left the borough behind for the relative calm of Miami. Rachel has been putting her music out into the world since 2012, slowly drip-feeding listeners slices of her music, culminating in 2018’s acclaimed EP, Not Enough. Now two years on, Rachel is gearing up to share her latest offering, the five-track Highway Songs EP, due next month on Public Works Records. Ahead of that release, today we’re sharing the latest track to be lifted from the record, Strapped.
Highway Songs was written at a time of great upheaval for Rachel, she was struck down with illness, stuck in her Brooklyn apartment and perhaps counter-intuitively feverishly productive. With a whirring mind, Rachel penned Strapped, an exploration of what is to be human, and what it is to be free. The track was inspired by the end of a painful relationship, channelling the positivity that loneliness can bring when it’s been a long time coming. Lyrically, you can almost feel Rachel’s sense of self-identity growing as the track progresses, initially we find her entrenched in the will of others, “I’m strapped, got no money, and I got no time and I got no love. And I’m waiting on all the bad days to rise above”. Yet as the song progresses, while the pain never fades entirely, a sense of confidence and freedom blooms, “I’m strapped in my body and there ain’t nobody gonna knock me down”. The struggles of the past remain, yet a ray of light appears, and you can almost feel Rachel gravitating towards it.
Musically, the track seems to channel both the modern alt-country sound of acts like Devendra Banhart or Jess Williamson, alongside the classic transatlantic folk sound of Vashti Bunyan. The track is in many ways delightfully simple, the acoustic guitar line, heavy on pulsing bass notes, joined by atmospheric waves of slide-guitar, the lightest of percussive shuffles and atop it all Rachel’s country-tinged vocal. It’s the vocal that’s so compelling, channeling all those gorgeous vibratos of her near namesake Angel Olsen with an easy, hypnotic quality reminiscent of Sandy Denny. While we were already well aware of the talents of Rachel Angel, on Highway Songs she seems fittingly to have shifted into another gear, speeding onwards towards the top of the alternative music scene, her dreams might just be her only limitation.
Highway Songs is out August 21st via Public Works Records. Click HERE for more information on Rachel Angel.