Angry Baby favourite Rachael Sage is back with her fifteenth studio album, The Other Side. With fifteen tracks of emotionally charged and intricately woven music that recalls the classic, retro-warmth of the ’70s and ’80s, this album album explores a myriad of emotions. Displaying a multitude of genres and instruments, the album comes together into a cohesive and captivating whole. Recorded in 2022 amid a whirlwind of back-to-back tours with Imelda May and Howard Jones (who features on the record with guest vocals), The Other Side finds its home in the lush soundscapes of Americana, alt-folk, and pop.
The phrase “the other side” is deeply evocative, conjuring up images of political strife, opposing perspectives, military battles, and the afterlife. But it also brings to mind memories of flipping over vinyl or cassette album sides, reminding us of our innate need for dichotomies in all aspects of life; from the polarities of pop music to the simple act of breathing.
The stand out song for me is the title track. ‘The Other Side’ is heart-warming with a memorable, gospel-tinged chorus and rapid-fire poeticism. Rachael’s timeless song writing comes to the fore here, with her signature breathy, ethereal vocal style punctuated by an almost punchy melody and harmonies. The lyrics remind us that what’s most important – in relationships, dreams or our quest for freedom in whatever form – is always worth waiting for. With a killer horn section, soulful organ and spirited piano, this track is steeped in hope and just the right amount of best-is-yet-to-come optimism.
Rachael’s musical prowess is on full display as the string arrangements are intimate and lush, weaving a delicate tapestry of sound that perfectly complements her gritty-but-ethereal vocal delivery. Her voice is the anchor around which the rest of the album revolves, a beacon of emotion and authenticity that draws us in without letting go. ‘The Place of Fun’, ‘I Made a Case’ and ‘Rebecca are also stand out tracks, each showcasing Rachael’s song writing talents in a different way. The latter is an out and out love song that bounces along in a joyful way, whilst ‘Place of Fun’ and ‘I Made a Case’ are more elegiac, epic sounding songs that focus on the darker side of life.
Rachael says that this album is slightly darker than before, “This record is starker than my previous work, and less afraid to look fear in the eye or give fate the finger. When I wrote the song ‘The Other Side’, I was separating from someone I still loved very much, while a family member had just been diagnosed with a serious illness, requiring me to be fully present to help them through it… The world seemed to be burning, but the grace of friends, loved ones and a beautiful creative community I found in upstate NY carried me through. The song is essentially a gospel plea for a more forgiving future and for peaceful liberation beyond a time of crisis.”
This album, with it’s darker tone, allows Rachael to also dive into a range of covers from Yazoo’s classic ‘Only You’, Maria McKee’s ‘Breathe’ and ‘Forgive Me‘ a ballad by 90’s NYC female-fronted rockers Danielle’s Mouth. All are wonderful, with ‘Forgive Me’ in particular coming to life in Rachael’s hands.
The Other Side is released on 21 July on MPress Records.
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