Album Review: Rachael Yamagata’s Tightrope Walker Will Leave You Entranced

Rachael Yamagata’s Tightrope Walker  comes out on September 23, and to say that I have walked away with an admiration for her artistry is an understatement. Between her vocal and guitar strings, Rachael appears in this album as if she is the coolest woman alive. Blessed with a voice that sounds like crisply, dry whiskey, she intoxicates with her newest record.

From track 1, Tightrope Walker, you know you are going to like this album. The song sets a thematic precedent for the rest of the album: Rachael Yamagata is here to analyze what it takes to spiritually grow as both a human being and a woman. The record tussles between rocker flared arrangements and folksy blued lyrics. Meanwhile, Rachael’s innate ability to make her every single vocal note sound like it has been kissed by a cherubim before it was released. There is a dark, mischievous undertone to Rachael’s voice that seduces with its straightforward tone and its captivating heartbreak. She turns even the most light-hearted tracks like Let Me Be Your Girl into an emotional plight/truth. Having such a smoky voice, Rachael’s words always appear direct and honest. When she tells her lover in the song Nobody that “Nobody wants you the way I want you”, you believe her. How can anyone lover someone more than Rachael? Each of her songs sound so raw and open, that it as if she has handed you her beating, bloody heart. 
The last image may seem a little dark, but part of what I love about Tightrope Walker is that Rachael has no problems with embracing the roughness of life. Whether it be the difficulties of keeping a relationship alive, Break Apart, or to make yourself feel alive, Money Thunder Fame, Rachael’s entire album is an ode to the amount of perseverance each human being must have to say they are living. That statement may seem crazy or ridiculous, but Tightrope exemplifies that between the daily routines of your life, your dreams, and your love, a person can feel exhausted. Thus, Rachael’s voice is the emblem of all the grit and resilience it takes to be a free spirit.

Favorite Tracks

Nobody: I could listen to Nobody all day! (pun intended) This song is should be placed in the dictionary under rock. It is so symbolic of everything the genre stands for: a naughty kick- drum, a hypnotizing chorus, and a melody that sounds like the last plights of a broken human being. Rachael wants
her man, and I want her to get him.

Rainsong: This track carries a beautiful mysticism. Rachael breathily sings throughout the piano-driven track to create a world that feels distant but still touchable. Despite, the melancholy of the lyrics and Rachael’s voice, the light-heartedness of its rhythms makes you believe that for nearly five minutes you are dancing among the stars and planets. How can a song capture the beauty of the cosmos? I do not know, but Rachael has achieved it with this stunner.

Black Sheep: this may sound cliche but from the first guitar strum this song sounds like it was made for every single person that has felt like an outcast. It is the equivalent to every tear and hurt a person has carried for being treated as too different to be loved. Rachael’s voice comes off like a weeping willow both crying for you, but also singing you a lullaby to assure you know that you will rise up again. The song is soft, sweet, and calm, which is exactly the loveliness anyone needs when they are feeling alone and alienated. This track is for the quiet moments when you need a little musical comfort.

I’m Going Back: I love the violin because it has the power to make you see music. Hence. I’m Going Back feels like a cinematic experience. You can literally imagine Rachael with a little baggage turning back to an old lover saying, “let’s work this out”. The song can be described in one word: gorgeous.

Tightrope Walker Comes out September 23. To buy the album or learn more about the exceptional Rachael Yamagata Click Here.Moreover, see her perform September 26 at Music Hall of Williamsburg.