Rachael Yamagata @ CMJ 2011
I was first introduced to Rachael Yamagata’s music back in 2005 while I was working for SonyBMG she was on the RCA label. Sony was working her first full-length album, Happenstance. I was instantly drawn to Rachael because of her confessional, bleeding-heart style of song writing. I’ve always been a fan of Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and PJ Harvey – she seemed to fit right in. Although, I’ve been a fan of Racheal’s music, she never toured though my area – I lived and worked from my home in FL – so I never had the chance to see her in a live setting.
Recently hearing some of Rachael’s new material off her latest release, Chesapeake, I was once again intrigued. I’d been keeping an eye open for a local tour date, when I realized Rachael was performing at CMJ. I put her on my hit list and hoped that she would be one of the many shows I would actually be able to catch. And I did.
Walking up to the overly crowded Rockwood Music Hall on Saturday Oct 22nd, once again, I thought I had ventured across town for a show only to find an at capacity venue – this happens a lot at CMJ – and miss my chance to see Rachael. But the door man asked which show I was there for (Rockwood has multiple rooms) and I was instantly let in to the side for Racheal’s performance.
The room was shoulder to shoulder packed, so I had to squeeze my way toward the stage. Rachael had not made an appearance yet and her band was setting up. The crowd for this show was truly a mixed bunch. There was definitely an older generation there of 50-somethings mixed in with 20 and 30-somethings. It was almost like half the room was not even there as part of CMJ but they were all just Rachael fans, catching another one of her shows.
The room loudly cheered as Rachael took the stage and explained she would be playing new and old material. Her new material is not as dark or bleeding heart-ish as previous material, but some new tracks like “Even If I Don’t” – her latest single off Chesapeake – are full of that ‘lost in love’ feeling fans have come to adore. “Even If I Don’t” actually opened her set followed by some older favorites like “I Want You.” As I looked around the room, fans of all ages were signing right along with Rachael to every song, including tracks from the new record.
She’s so comfortable on stage and very humble. Rachael really is the whole package when it comes to singer songwriters: she wears her heart on her sleeve; she acts very natural on stage; and the feelings she exudes have a distinct authenticity. Watching her is like hanging out with a friend who is performing a few heartfelt songs just for you, yet everyone in the room can feel invited, warm, and welcome. Also, she sounds just as good live as she does recorded.
I realized her set would be kinda short, as CMJ showcase sets always are. So I quickly slithered my way all the way up front to capture a few photos – check them out below. I recommend trying to catch Rachael Yamagota while she tours in support of Chesapeake. I plan to try and catch her in a not so crowded setting when she comes through the Philly area. Click here to scope upcoming dates nearest you.