On October 7, Rachael Yamagata will release her sophomore effort, Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart, a song cycle that explores emotions and instincts contemplated amid and following a personal relationship. As musically progressive and mature as its contextual premise, this double album finds the singer/songwriter expanding upon themes she introduced on her 2004 debut, Happenstance, infusing it with piano-laden grandeur in turn with brazen rock ‘n’ roll.
She conceives an evocative, melancholic aura on Elephants, its lyric imagery and introspection mirrored in music that echoes with an ethereal weight. On Teeth Sinking Into Heart, she solidifies that aura into an emboldened sonic assault of brash and scathing guitars. Taken as a whole, the album makes for a harrowing depiction of the perils and ravages of relationships.
A 4-song EP, currently available for download at most online retailers, affords a compelling preview of the album.
Yamagata is set to headline a tour in support of Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart, beginning September 20 in Asbury Park, New Jersey before joining the Hotel Café tour on October 28 in Washington DC.
Before hitting the road, though, Rachael Yamagata spoke with BC Magazine’s Donald Gibson about her thoughts on the album’s thematic and musical development as well as her perception of the work overall.
This being your first album in four years, how has your songwriting changed in comparison to Happenstance?
The lyrics, especially on Elephants, have become a bit more poetic. I’ve never used metaphors or imagery the way that I am on this record. And certainly the guitar-driven rock side is new territory for me in terms of recording. We touched on it a little bit in Happenstance, but this one kind of takes it to the next level, especially the production side, [which] is very gritty and raw and gutsy in a way that’s new for me. I’m touching on a lot of similar themes but with a bit more poetic wisdom.
You’ve started playing the guitar more prominently on this album. Is that electric guitar as well as acoustic?
On this record it’s acoustic yet in live performances I’ve just started picking up the electric.
How are you doing on that?
Well, it’s slow (laughs). It’s almost like my passion for it is tripping my feet up a little bit. I love the guitar. I’ve always written on guitar. I’ve just never really recorded very much on guitar. So for this record we really kind of went there with particular songs, but I just like the gutsiness and the range. I was introduced to so many great bands way late. It was right around a couple years ago when I first heard Led Zeppelin and I got so intoxicated by the guitar solos and work like that.