Rachael’s first warm laugh broke before I managed to pick up the telephone and speak. I’m frazzled, I breathlessly told her, explaining that I had to set up in haste to catch her call. “You’re rockin’ out, I love it.” I began to chuckle at her chortles at me and in our moment before the interview, I knew a friendly dynamic was established. That was last month.
I finally could put a face to that funny laugh that impressed me that October. In Webster’s Marlin Room, filled with spinning disco shaped suns and couches, Rachael made the room smaller and smaller with her beautifully strewn set comprised of narratives and little bits of her own humor in between. She was creating a biographical vignette in a way, knitting her ballads in a meaningful sequence, starting with the old: “Even If I Don’t,” “Worn Me Down,” and “Elephants.” She proved just how much of an eclectic multi-instrumentalist she was–getting up and down to play her acoustic, piano, or energetically shake a tambourine. Her band was just as assorted as she with one member playing banjo, guitar, and piano. Through her I learned how elephants mourn and shed tears like us, and gathered a gist of her past relationships and experiences—vocalizing the good and bad of love with songs like those describing two artists falling in love or her painful discovery of her ex-lover’s unfaithfulness. She mentioned how her ex-lover putting headphones in bed used to be a turn off, and her guitarist, in his comedic moment of glory chipped in, “He could’ve plugged in something else!”
With all of the show’s non-seriousness, there were times to be deliberate and extra thoughtful of what she was saying. Taking account of the Paris attacks from last week, she gave a message to spread love to counter such violence and hate. And she was right, I started slow dancing to “You Wont Let Me” with the one person I took on a whim given I was almost always a solo reviewer. The most notable of Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide,” came as a surprise in which I knew almost all of the words to; it was a song Rachael believes you can “kumbaya the sh*t out of.” She was right and I must admit she had a knack for connecting to the audience as a storyteller and comedian. Many times I’ve seen artists play an entire set, speak the bare minimum, and then depart the stage, leaving fans a bit more disenchanted from before. For me at least, I attend a concert with a desire to connect in some way; whether it is to the artist, the song, or the atmosphere. And for this reason, was why Ms. Yamagata was well received from my end.