Rachael Sage’s new group Poetica creates complex mix of poetry and music

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TOM MOORE

RACHAEL SAGE

Poetica, directed by singer-songwriter Rachael Sage, will perform at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on September 30 at 7 p.m. to celebrate the release of their self-titled album on Sage’s indie label MPress Records. Kelly Halloran, Andy Mac, Bryan Wilson and Trina Hamlin will join her on stage.

The intimate, cinematic concept album of spoken word – produced and designed by alt-pop folk musician Sage – will be released on October 22. The sensitive and captivating album mixes poetry with jazz, classical and American musical influences.

Sage said that the album “was an opportunity to create a new work with a stellar group of musicians, with no creative limits. The language itself and the images it contains have taken us to places musically that the traditional songwriting would never have happened.There are songs that fit in a more classical vein, and others that skew more blues, americana and even jazz.

The group previously released two tracks from the album, “Thanksgiving” and “Passenger,” which are featured in the videos below.

The “Thanksgiving” video, directed by Natasha Alexandra, grabs attention with its playful graphics, then surprises with its compelling message of freedom.

The cover of the album “Poetica”.

Sage speaks:

Freedom like I’ve never known
You stand so easily on your knees
She shakes and cries in my embrace
But you, teacher of calm
Move the sadness of young people
And singing, make me whole
… No man ever creates woman’s power
Might as well invigorate the house of mirrors of love

Sage stated that “Thanksgiving” “is a poem that personifies freedom, first describing her as a baby who can be either peaceful and calm or restless and unsatisfied. As the room grows, it becomes clear that this duality is also inherent in the dynamic between lovers.

“I guess this piece is a poetic piece about the age-old truism written by Sting that ‘If you love someone, set them free.’ Freedom, in the context of any kind of relationship – even between citizen and nation – can mean a lot and especially this past year this piece seemed like a fitting choice for a first single from Poetica.

“The process by which this album itself was made transcended vast distances, and yet it was also a deeply intimate and unifying experience.”

In “Passenger”, a mixture of blues and poetry, Sage takes us on a journey of two opposing people. Sage speaks:

“From the atmosphere it may seem like I’m all head and soul / While you are all hands and heart / The way you bend the world to your touch / Does the way that I strategize too much for my own good… A subtle smile on your familiar face / Give only so much / As I open my book as easily as dragonfly wings crush.

The meaning of “passenger” has evolved over time. “As we recorded it, it definitely meant something very different from what I originally wanted,” Sage said.

TOM MOORE

RACHAEL SAGE

The album “explores the concept of opposites attracting each other and difference so celebrated that it evolves into passionate desire. The idea that adventure and travel is a metaphor for discovering and exploring sensuality took on new resonance as we were all isolated, but also eager to find ways to connect deeply. Hope the blues-infused music that makes up this piece conveys both desire and hope, the kind of bittersweet desire that you only feel when you’ve come close to mortality and come back with a deeper meaning. of the beauty of this fleeting thing called life. “

She credits her blues influences to Eric Burdon and Beth Hart (she toured with both) and John Lee Hooker, who was a close friend during her college days, among others.

When listening to this album, set aside time to dwell on each poetic song. There is so much to discover in these genre pieces.

“Days of Awe” is a timely song given that some Jews have just spent the last month celebrating and reflecting during the 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). These days are called the days of fear because of our burden to atone individually and collectively for our wrongdoing, to make peace with our community.

Sage tells us in “Days of Awe” that “everything has a season and it is inevitable that if you remove the leaves before fall you will be heartbroken / I never believed in karma / I have seen too much of mensches suffer while the schlemiels won the prize.

She said the poem is about heartbreak and was inspired by Patti Smith. “It feels both challenging and empowered to me, emotionally and energetically,” she said.

The cover for Rachael Sage’s 2020 album, “Character”.

During the pandemic, Sage collaborated with cellist Dave Eggar (who worked with Esperanza Spalding, Duncan Sheik and Corinne Bailey Rae). While she designed the project in isolation, with limited equipment, she sent files back and forth to band members and guest musicians around the world.

In addition to Eggar, Sage’s frequent musical partners have contributed including James Mastro, Doug Yowell, Kelly Halloran, Jack Petruzelli, guitarist Gerry Leonard (who has performed with David Bowie and Suzanne Vega), klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, jazz trumpeter Russ Johnson, drummer Quinn and UK-based rock-blues harmonica player Will Wilde.

Sage has been performing spoken word for many years “on the East Village music scene in New York,” she said. “I used to sprinkle at least two or three poems in my longer sets in my twenties, and when I toured Europe with Eric Burdon, I got into some very improvised, trance-like compositions with my group at the time. It always seemed very natural to me.

“I think I was worried that it would be difficult to create something dynamic enough without singing. But by referring to artists like Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, and even Johnny Cash, my cellist Dave Eggar really encouraged me to believe that the words themselves contain the DNA, so to speak, of conducting. what would the music take, once we started this. job. And he was right.

She felt that “singing was not enough to express these ideas. It had to be spoken and not sung, because pop music couldn’t contain that kind of density – of imagery, language, musical composition, and performance. In that sense, he leans more towards jazz than anything I’ve done before… and it’s exciting.

“It looks like a move towards more risk taking and something more ambitious, and it will be a challenge to play this very complex material live. But I’m very lucky to have a great band coming together to do it at Rockwood Music Hall on September 30th. I think for all of us at Poetica it will be like flying, and I can’t wait.

Sage founded MPress Records over 20 years ago in New York City. She has collaborated with Judy Collins and Ani DiFranco and raised funds for various nonprofits including WhyHunger, God’s Love We Deliver and Girls Inc.

In addition to the Rockwood show, she will perform at The Loft at City Winery in New York on November 9.

For more information visit mpressrecords.com Where rachaelsage.com.

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