Erin Rae’s last album ‘Putting on Airs’ was a slow burn for me, one that eventually became a warming fire which I returned to again and again. Her new album ‘Lighten Up’ with its title and imagery suggested a shift towards a more sunny disposition. As it turns out the title is more of a note to self, an encouragement, or even a plea. Looking on the bright side is not always an easy thing to do.
The light Americana inspired sound still informs her music although perhaps there is also more of sixties, vintage dream pop vibe here at times in the tone of the production by Jonathan Wilson. Opening song ‘Candy and Curry‘ is an isolation tale, where she attempts to try and find peace through cooking, gardening, baking, yoga, prayer. She admits she’s finding ‘it very difficult to do’, hearing voices and doubting herself. The musical mood is thoughtful, contemplative, her voice as wistful as ever.
In ‘Can’t See Stars’ she driving around, happier to be alone, wondering about light pollution and the over population of earth. It’s a really gorgeous song, with her lyrical thoughtfulness at its heart. Then ‘True Love’s Face’ offers a more optimistic take on romance, where she tries to convince herself that in the future she won’t turn away from love, or destroy it with her own insecurities.
She leaves behind her past on ‘California Belongs to You‘, moving towards a brighter, freer horizon. ‘Cosmic Sigh‘ sums up the tone of the whole album – soft wondering about the wonder of the universe.
‘Modern Woman‘ is poppy in tone and increasing the musical tempo actually suits her. She looks back on the misconceptions about women over time, sums up the ‘illusion’ and lies that have fed into sexism. She admits you ‘can’t change the past’ but offers an invite to see the future, the ‘modern woman’.
She’s back on more familiar territory on the quiet strum of ‘Drift Away‘, an encouragement to avoid fear and doubt, not to let love and life fade. On ‘Enemy‘ she faces her own demons, admits her own failings and how difficult it can be to fight your own mind. ‘Mind/Heart‘ expands on this theme with its brutally truthful refrain of ‘the mind is fucked but the heart is pure’.
From here the title track is a reminder to notice yourself, acknowledge your own heart needs attention – give love a chance. She finishes with ‘Undone‘, where going back is a healing process, a way towards ‘deeper knowing’.
Comforting, quietly profound and atmospheric with a philosopher’s heart to her lyrics, Erin Rae continues to be one of our brightest and best musical talents. A welcome reminder that life is better if you Lighten Up and try.