Album Review: Rachael Yamagata – Tightrope Walker

Rachael Yamagata should really be a household name by this point with a stream of accolades and a host of studio albums, live albums, singles and projects that include a wide variety of popular TV shows and films. This year sees her return triumphantly once again to the music world with her vivacious and life-affirming album Tightrope Walker.

Tightrope Walker is a brave and bold album that has a rich versatility to it as it flexes back and forth with Yamagata’s every mood. Like a swaying thicket of bamboo her music is flexible and supple and yet strong enough to stand up to anything. Brushing her fingers across a variety of genres the way most people might brush their fingers along the bookshelf she has created a unique and mesmerising album that is brazen, charming and experimental in a way that makes it totally addictive. Opening up with its title track Tightrope Walker it lulls you into a false sense of security as it at first sets you up to hear a jaunty, smoky jazz album as a thick, funky jazz melody permeates the air around you, transporting you to a gin joint far, far away.

However, this is then immediately followed by Nobody – a daring, rocked up and experimental tune rife with a deep electronic influence and driving guitar melody that any rock band would be jealous of. The album continues on in this pattern, meandering like a river, bending at every turn and never letting you get complacent with your expectations. Each bend in the river reveals another rich element of life in a vibrant collection of songs that burst to life all around you, channelling elements of bands as far removed as Silverchair; her music is a decadent collection of instruments that combine in ways they may never have before and you won’t be able to help but love and twisting sound.

To top off her phenomenal musical talent and bold, practically evolutionary sounds you are also confronted with one of the most awe-inspiring sets of vocals you have ever heard. Rich and sultry, smooth and soulful, her vocals are a perfectly adaptable blend to touch upon every genre she flirts with. Her adaptive voice is applied to everything from folk to rock to classical and everything in-between in a deeply evocative and resonant way that will pluck at your heartstrings with every chord. Her voice is a vibrant and welcome addition to an album that is already brimming over with an abundance of talent and perfect compositions.

Yamagata is a musical genius with a wile imagination and an uncanny ability to bend the world to her will as she combines folk, rock, electronic, jazz, country and more to bring you a stunning blend that is far finer than any wine.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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