We covered an earlier single of Rachel Angel‘s, ‘Strapped’, in 2020 and it’s a pleasure to again be invited into the swirling and evocative pop-laced country folk sound she does so effortlessly.
Taken from the new album Midnite Heart Attack, released earlier this month, ‘Closer To Myself‘, is a tour de force of how to write a song that makes the personal universal, imbue it with great vocal hooks and frame it with a full band sound that draws on 70s pop-rock, twang and 60s drama, indie rock and classic folk-rock sensibilities. The album was recorded in Philadelphia at Miner Street Recordings and features members from the rock band, The War on Drugs.
The song’s subject matter isn’t new but Angel breathes new life into it. Though the journey ahead may be tough, Angel leads us into a world of hope and belonging, singing, “I’m getting closer to myself and less to you and when I finally close my eyes and see, I find that it was always in front of me”, inviting us all along on the road to self discovery.
Electric guitars in stereo unison ring out as optimistic riffs while the rhythm section lopes along in perfect support. Towards the end of the song you hear the musicians taking the openness and optimism literally, playfully adding diving guitar strings to the outro.
I’m thinking Erin Rae, Courtney Marie Andrews, Linda Ronstadt, Nikki Lane and more when I listen to Rachel Angel and there are treats aplenty right across the new album. A drum machine taps out a metronomic heartbeat on ‘Baby Can I Come Home To You’, the title track features big, heavy distorted guitars that add bite, growl and swagger, while ‘Many Nights’ heads into desert noir territory like a Lanois special. Field recordings and twee folk combine on ‘I Need Love’ and closer ‘Candle’ posits Angel as something of an experimental space-age Gillian Welch. There’s plenty of range and depth to Midnite Heart Attack and a clear willingness from the songwriter to explore and have fun with the creative process.