Sara Rachele – Scorpio Moon
Part-time New Yorker, occasional Atlantan, and full-time creative force Sara Rachele’s multi-city connections helped achieve her ambitious live-to-tape vision for new album Scorpio Moon.
The title track, recorded with members of the Dap-Kings, rolls the clock back to the blue-eyed soul heights of Dusty Springfield’s career. It features not only Binky Griptite and other members of Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones’ former backing band but also such Atlanta-based talents as co-producer and keyboardist Spencer Garn and engineer and multi-instrumentalist Kris Sampson. Together, this star-studded group of performers fleshed out one of Rachele’s most skillfully made songs to date.
Cinematic offerings “Allelu (I Found You)” and “Let Me Make It Up to You (You’re Such a Sweet Thing)” further establish Rachele as more than a folksy singer-songwriter. Like many others lumped in with Americana or alt-country, she brings the vocal talents, songwriting chops, and stacked supporting cast necessary to explore all sorts of music, from European story-song traditions to the popular sounds derived from Sunday morning worship services.
As for her more country and folk-leaning output, “Goodbye, Goodbye” “Dream, Dream Love,” and “Bye Bye Baby, Bye Bye” share more in common than their repetitious titles. They capture the magic of Rachele’s solo acoustic sets while pushing her lyrics to the forefront, proving her as a formidable ally for your favorite Nashville outsiders.
The album features three cover songs: Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Dionne Warwick’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” and Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.” Relatively safe choices, considering I once saw her cover Charles Manson at 529, but solid picks for an album marked by musical variety and cultural nostalgia as seen through a 2019 lens.
The Parton selection makes Rachele sound more like the other two Trio members: fellow genre-free song interpreters Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. That’s to say that Parton makes covers sound like country songs, while Harris and Ronstadt take others’ compositions down paths beyond East Tennessee’s dirt roads.
As with the song “Scorpio Moon,” the other covers remind us that Rachele’s listening habits cannot be put into a twangy storytelling box. She can write a fine, introspective folk song or country ballad, yet like Lukas Nelson and others raised on timeless rock and soul, her tastes and talents avoid easy categorization.
In all, Scorpio Moon serves as a snapshot of Rachele’s music as she puts her all into the songwriting process, bypassing a typical career to chase a dream shared by her wide array of influences.