Erin Rae is currently on tour in Australia with Courtney Marie Andrews on what might be one of the very first international tours we’ve seen in the last two years. Rae has just released a beautiful new album, Lighten Up, that complements her sublime and nuanced songwriting with cosmic, lightly psychedelic and baroque folk sounds and she kindly took the time to answer a few questions for PTW.
After releasing Putting On Airs and then having your touring halted with the onset of the pandemic, did that put you into a creative tailspin or did you embrace the changes straight away and channel them into the writing of Lighten Up?
At that juncture, I had been touring for a couple of years pretty consistently, so I actually was grateful for the extended break, once it was clear it was going to be a little while. It gave me time to think about what I wanted to do next and how I wanted to approach this album, as well as continue writing without the pressure of an immediate release schedule. It was definitely a shock, though.
There’s a lovely expansive, relaxed and dreamy feel to the new album, were you writing with these kinds of sounds and moods in mind or did that develop in the studio with producer Jonathan Wilson?
For sure, I think that’s part of what drew me to working with Jonathan as well. Just seeing what we could come up with out in that beautiful space of his, near the west coast.
You have some great players on this album. Were there any surprises and/or revelations when you heard their contributions to your songs?
More than anything it was just so refreshing and life giving to be around them and hear their contributions in person again. It had been a year of not running into friends at festivals, and you can almost forget the feeling of hearing friends play. So that was the most inspiring thing.
Can you talk a bit about some of the common themes and ideas across these dozen songs?
My last record, Putting on Airs, was pretty deeply introspective, looking at some wounds, patterns, and fears. So coming out of that record, and into this next chapter, I wanted to move more into exploring what comes after that sort of internal dive. I wanted to look forward into connection with others and affirm the intention to grow beyond those fears. So these songs are the various aspects of that. Fear of the unknown, hope and excitement, vulnerability, bravery.
Nashville is known primarily as a country music town but Americana seems to have really established its own community there as well. Is that the case in terms of networking and collaborating with likeminded songwriters and musicians?
I mean, Americana was sort of born out of a need to categorise and lift up country and roots music that existed outside of the mainstream. So, I still consider it to be country adjacent. I would say what is more unexpected would be that there’s a vibrant hip-hop scene, with some incredible rappers, as well as a lot of pop artists. People like Daisha McBride, The Rap Girl, Samia, etc. Lots of exciting things to pay attention to, in roots music & outside of it.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny etc in the last year and I can hear an English folk feel running through some of the new songs. Is that a reflection of some of your own listening in recent years?
Definitely. I hope to make music channeling more of that vibe in the future, if it comes out that way of course, but that is the style of music I return to again and again. Some other artists in that world that I love so much are like, Pete Dello & Friends, Mighty Baby, Kevin Ayers, Bridget St. John, etc. Love it.
What are you looking forward to about touring Australia for the first time?
I’m just excited for the experience! I’m excited to connect with musicians here, and have wonderful fresh breakfasts and coffees, and to hear the amazing Courtney Marie Andrews play her songs every night.
Now that it’s becoming increasingly safe to tour again and play shows, is it just playing live that you’ve missed over the last two years or is the travel, meeting people etc also an important part of the experience for you?
I love it all! Love eating in different cities. We’ve already had a legendary Laksa soup in Canberra, and gone to a couple of the national museums, had some great coffee. Love to go for walks in the cities we get to visit, even if it’s just a brief one. I feel so grateful to get to tour and experience so many places.
Courtney Marie Andrews & Erin Rae Australian Tour 2022
Presented by Love Police
Tuesday March 8 – Perth, WA, Fremantle Arts Centre
Thursday March 10 – Sydney, NSW, City Recital Hall
Saturday March 12 / Sunday March 13 – Port Fairy, VIC, Port Fairy Folk Fest
Tuesday March 15 – Melbourne, VIC, Wesley Anne
Wednesday March 16 – Melbourne, VIC, The ESPY
Friday March 18 – Castlemaine, VIC, Bridge Hotel
Saturday March 19 – Archies Creek, VIC, Archie’s Creek Hotel
Sunday March 20 – Melbourne, VIC, Westwood