CD RELEASE SHOW: July 29th at Mississippi Studios
July 29, 2011, Portland, Oregon’s own Rachel Taylor Brown will celebrate the release of her seventh studio album, World So Sweet. Also on the bill are The Brothers Young, plus special guests. Tickets are $10.00 in advance and $10.00 at the door. Doors at 8:30pm, show at 9pm.
When asked to describe her music, Taylor Brown jokingly suggests, “Pith Rock; sharp ‘n’ pointy! Or spongy and permeable!” She starts to laugh. “Pith ‘n’ Vinegar Rock! No, wait: there’s that horrible thing they do to frogs in a lab, that’s pithing. Maybe Igneous Rock is better.”
Talk to those who know her music, though, and other descriptions come up. “Unsettling but addictive.” “Good stories.” “Unpredictable.” “Arresting.” “Dark, funny, sweeping, panoramic, pretty, ugly, complex, moving.” And, “You can dance to it.”
But to fully grasp and understand World So Sweet and Rachel Taylor Brown, you have only to listen to the record.
“I realized in retrospect how dark these songs may come off. I wish I could explain better how they make me feel hopeful,” explains Taylor Brown. “I always feel better when dark things are out in the open instead of hidden away. Looking at the scary stuff makes me more appreciative of the beauty in the world, makes me feel like my feet are on the ground.” She continues, “I think it helps that you can dance around to many of them. I can see someone getting down to one of these songs and never knowing what the hell I’m singing about. I like that the songs can be enjoyed on that level–it makes me feel sneaky. Lyrics are very important to me but I know a lot of people don’t listen to them, especially now. It’s interesting to see who notices the words and who doesn’t.”
It’s that love of life, humor, curiosity, basic compassion, and a healthy dose of skepticism that fuels Taylor Brown. It’s heavily reflected in everything she does, including the thirteen tracks found on World So Sweet.
“I love the people I love, and the beautiful world,” she continues. “I’m fortunate. There was a time I didn’t want to be around. Now that I do, it’s sweet, every day; even when it’s horrible. There are birds. The world is sweet, even though it’s awful. That prayer I had to say when I was a kid: ‘Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you, God, for everything.’ I’ve always loved that prayer, even though I don’t believe in the God part anymore. I love anything that reflects even some little awareness that we’re living with a whole lot of other creatures and that we’re just one bit of the whole thing.”
Rachel Taylor Brown might best be described as a dubious but hopeful observer who watches the world and the people of the world destroy and create beauty daily, just one witness who can tell a story through song.
“These songs are about the usual mundane things that seem to preoccupy me; how great and how awful people are and how beautiful and ugly the world is,” she says. “There’s huge scope in that. I know I have a comfort level with some of the things I write about that others may not have, due in large part to my own history. I’m not thinking of how it may hit anyone else when I’m writing. I’m usually surprised when my husband or some other listener points out that it’s maybe hard to hear. I really believe in letting a song be what it wants, though. And I guess some (ok, a lot) of my songs want to be peppy tunes about the worst of human nature. I have to say, though, I find that contradiction very satisfying.”
For all the hurt and pain in the world, like all of us Rachel Taylor Brown goes on. Creating music that is equally pretty and haunting, sometimes simple but sometimes epic, the perfect strange cocktail of darkening doubt, lightening hope and “it’s got a good beat, you can dance to it.” Music that’s meaningful but catchy, a paradox of everything the world has to offer. With World So Sweet she brings to the surface good and evil, creating an album that is as rich as it is sparse, dense as it is airy.
Curious, I looked up “pithy.” The thesaurus reads: “succinct, concise, compact, to the point, epigrammatic, crisp, significant, meaningful, expressive, telling.” “Pith” means “essence, fundamentals, heart, substance, core, crux, gist, meat, kernel, marrow, weight, depth, force.” “Pith Rock” is a weird and awkward moniker for her music, and maybe a little too close to “piss” said with a lisp. But, you know it kind of fits.
“Taxidermy” — http://www.inmusicwetrust.com/pr/freemp3s/racheltaylorbrown_taxidermy.mp3
“How To Make A World Class Gymnast” — http://www.inmusicwetrust.com/pr/freemp3s/racheltaylorbrown_howtomake.mp3