Sunday, September 7, 2014

An angelic voice...

I'm fairly certain I'll never have the opportunity to hear angels' voices as they were described to us when I was an altar boy, choir member, and a believer back in my Catholic-school 60s. But now that I'm in my recovering-60s, I'm certain that I've come as close as I ever will to hearing an actual angel voice as when I heard the voice of Rachael Davis, singer and songwriter out of Nashville TN, and originally from Cadillac MI.

Rachael's first two albums are "Minor League Deities" (2001) and "Antebellum Queens" (2008) --- with her latest EP, "Bandbox Jubilee," just released last week. And even as these three albums offer excellent opportunities to hear her voice, they also allow us to hear the development of her voice in that 14-year time-span. And now I've had the opportunity to hear her sing at the Wheatland Festival, twice, with the most recent time being last Friday evening to support her new EP. As a result, I can easily say her voice, already excellent in 2001, has improved with time and effort and is now a finely tuned instrument, to be sure. 

Singers' voices are far too often overproduced in studios. As a result, these singers are just as often left to the un-tender mercies of their voices during live performances, where every weakness is on display, and amplified exponentially. Not so Rachael. She just stands in front of the microphone and sings, without smoke, mirrors, or magic; however, what resulted last Friday just might have been magical, as Rachael's obvious vocal strength was clearly conjured during her performance at Wheatland. ("Happy Wheatland," indeed!) 

She was a complete and utter delight. The suppleness and power she demonstrated seemed effortless, with the broad smile on her face suggestive of a person who was thinking, "This is just too damn easy!" But as a musician and a singer, I can assure you that singing isn't anywhere near the vicinity of easy, especially as well as Rachael does it.  She is a peach. 

Her intonation was as close to perfect as a human voice can get, but she was not at all mechanical with it. Her tone, her note choices, her phrasing, were all just pure and wonderful. One could easily hear and see a passionate power in her style, which showed in every well-chosen note of every well-written song (many, if not all, her own work), as she floated from a full, rich, sometimes growling chest voice to a sweet falsetto, with grace and ease. The eager crowd in Wheatland's Centennial Stage tent were clearly there to hear Rachael, enthusiastically cheering her often-chilling, always-exciting vocal passages.

The band supporting her was excellent as well and provided supple support and a fine framework for Rachael's lovely, lovely voice. Everyone involved were fine musicians all around, and having been in bands for close to 50 years, I know how lucky they all are to have one another.

If you have the opportunity to hear Rachael Davis sing, to hear her and the band play their instruments, whether on CD or, most especially, live, do not pass it by: you'll be glad you didn't, as you too discover that angels do sing after all.