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Release Date: May 20, 2016
Rachael Sage first came to my attention over a decade ago when I saw her open for Ani DiFranco. There was a fierce NYC scene back then that you simply couldn’t ignore. The talent of Sage, Jen Chapin, Marly Hornik, and Gail Silverman was undeniable and Sage and Chapin, in particular, continue to prove it to this day. For her 12th studio album, Sage has created an album full of tracks that are tailor made for the lyrical dance community (which have been using her music for YouTube videos for years) while re-embracing her love of ballet.
Choreographic is an unstoppable force, to put it mildly. In recent years, Sage has embraced her Folk side a bit more but this is a return to the sound of her original trio of albums while embracing the vast songwriting knowledge she has acquired over the years. “I Don’t Believe It” is the best example of this, it’s driving piano and fast-paced vocals are lifted to the stars by soaring background vocals and a hook (provided by the string section) that sinks in and doesn’t let go. It’s fierce and in your face and unapologetic….a lyrical and musical testament to never giving up.
Another favorite here is album opener “Heaven (Is a Grocery Store Clerk).” It’s positive, upbeat longing is, again, driven by the piano and vocal but the big Pop hooks and the strings make it feel huge. Sage’s gentle, breathy voice is on 10 here as well, reminding the listener of the power her unique voice has. “Try Try Try” is another Pop-oriented tune that reminds me a lot of really early 10,000 Maniacs. It’s upbeat and poppy but the handclaps and strings give it an Indie Rock vibe that makes you instantly fall in love with it.
On the other side of the coin, “French Doors” takes those breathy vocals up a notch and puts them to use in a bluesier way. The song takes a bit of the Big Easy, a bit of NYC, and a smattering of Sage’s classical training and blends them into a beautiful, intimate piece. The acoustic version of “Home” ends the album with the sound of victory; huge vocals, intimate music, and relatable lyrics that offer some insight into who Rachael Sage is at the heart of it all.
If you love Pop music with nods towards Folk, Indie Rock, and Singer/Songwriter (or any of the artists mentioned in the review) then you must not miss out on Choreographic. I have followed Sage her entire career and this feels like her most accomplished work. It even makes me feel like dancing (which is saying more than you could ever realize!).
Reviewed by mark1340