From the small-town rural beauty of the Great Lakes State come this gorgeous, old-school country voice and vibe.
Before we heard that her new CD, The Loneliness in Me, was going to be released on October 23, we have to confess we didn’t know Rachel Brooke.
As her publicist aptly put it when introducing her to us: “Who knew there existed authentic old-school country silver-throated cowgirls in the woods of Michigan? Rachel's style brings a warm feeling of eras past, when country music was full of wistful twang and hauntingly great melodies.
Who knew, indeed. Like so much that’s surprising and delightful about Michigan, Brooke is a revelation that’s both retro and modern — and as real as the rural place she calls home. Which all makes us very happy to be premiering a good example of her prodigious talent with the track “It Won’t Be Long.”
“While working on this song, I saw it as a picture or a painting — something bigger than just a melody with words,” Brooke says. “I wanted to paint the picture on the macro level of what It’s like where I come from. I live way out in the woods, miles away from anything resembling a city. When you’re out in the country at night you can see the stars and the Milky Way Galaxy so clear that it’s almost overwhelming. You can hear the wild animals calling while they allow you to share their world. It’s beautiful and formidable at the same time, but this is my home. Wherever I go, and whatever I do, I try and take this world with me.”
Her longtime friend and fellow musician James Hunnicutt sings harmonies on the bluegrass shuffle track, helping to create its transportive mood. Brooke’s voice leads the way with a polished twang and directness that call to mind Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette.
It’s the kind of voice instrumentation you’d want to waft on the country breeze — if you longed for something as inspiring as the natural silence — while gazing at the starry sky on a northern Michigan night.
Brooke has been perfecting her sound since well before her self-titled first release in 2008: She grew up playing bluegrass with her father. Since her last solo effort, A Killer’s Dream (2012), she weathered the loss of her dad, from whom she learned her love of music and with whom she worked on collaborative projects, including The Misanthrope Family Album (2017) and Bad Omen (2015).
As with previous releases, accompaniment on Brooke’s new record features a trove of talented musicians. A new addition to the mix is Detroit’s legendary Dave Feeny on pedal steel, giving The Loneliness in Me a direct lineage to Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, on which he also performs his magic on pedal steel.
From the rollicking title track, “The Loneliness in Me,” to the toe-tapping “Great Mistake” to the high lonesome of “It Won’t Be Long” and “Lovells Stockade Blues,” Brooke’s distinctive voice makes the music all her own even as it takes you back to some vintage icons.
Recorded in Traverse City, Michigan, the songs were written by Brooke with her fellow musician and husband, Brooks Robbins, and mastered at Detroit’s recently launched Third Man Mastering.
At a time when a global pandemic has given a historic new meaning to the experience of loneliness, here comes an authentic crop of pitch-perfect tunes that can offer much-needed solace, companionship, and entertainment.