Erin Rae Interview

We are not normally in the habit of reviewing an album on two separate occasions at Lonesome Highway. There are exceptions however, as was the case with Soon Enough by Erin Rae. A promotional copy of her album was reviewed by myself in June followed by a further review of the album in October by my colleague Paul Mc Gee. Whether this was an editorial master stroke or an oversight is neither here nor there! More to the point is the impact the album had on both of us with references to ‘one of the finest songs of the year (Clean Slate)’ and ‘one of the highlights of the year and a must buy’ being included in the reviews. Lonesome Highway caught up with Erin Rae after she returned to Nashville following a whistle stop tour of the UK supporting Cale Tyson.  

Your recent tour of the UK with the Meanwhiles received hugely positive feedback. How important is it for you to create a market in the UK/Europe?

We had a really great time. I felt and feel very fortunate to have such a warm welcome our first time to the UK ... I'd say it's just as important to me to develop the market and relationships over there as it is to do so in the States. It has been at the forefront of my dream of being a musician. Ever since loving the Spice Girls as a little girl. (I was Posh). 

You’ve moved to centre stage with your album Soon Enough having performed as a backing vocalist for many artists in Nashville. What prompted the move? 

I've been working on my own music from the beginning. It's a fun part of being in the community and being a singer and getting to sing harmonies to share and support in friends music! We all help each other. Molly Parden has been singing with me for a few years, and she's got some exciting things coming her way! It's neat to see us all grow at different times. We each have our own paths, and it’s such an amazing thing to witness and help each other with. 

Soon Enough was recorded in two days, basically a live recording, over what period were the songs on the album written?

2012-2015. So a lot of the songs had been played for a couple years as a band, making the live recording fun and easy. And special!

On repeated listens the album reveals itself as possibly a commentary on a life’s experiences to date. Should we consider it autobiographical?

Yes, every song (excluding Pretty Thing) is autobiographical. However the sentiment of that song still is true to me. 

The album, for me, benefits from not being over produced and its quality is not in any way compromised by being recorded in such a short time frame. Had you and your band been performing the material live over a period of time?

Most of it we had! At least half of the songs, maybe more. There were some that were saved to release on the record, but we did already have the band template in place, so we used a similar format for those songs, taking away or adding elements where that was needed.  

The quality of female singer songwriters in Nashville operating under the Americana banner seems endless at present. I’m thinking of yourself, Lilly Hiatt, Molly Parden, Kelsey Waldon and Margo Price to name a few. Has Margo Price’s breakthrough acted as a confidence booster in terms of possible career progression for an artist like yourself?

Love all of those women, and the list goes on! Tristen, Caitlin Rose, Kristina Murray, Liz Cooper, Emily Nenni, Becca Mancari, and more and more! I think it acted as an affirmation of the path we are all on. That big things can still happen, that the reach can still be far for real music! That turn around has been happening. But, it has been such a cool time for music. So many incredible records were released in 2016, with more to come in 2017, and I think it's just a really good time for music. Also, the community here is such a supportive one, so it's changed a lot of the motivation in my mind from mainstream success being the focus, to creating a true path for myself. It's cool that those things might realign again for more of us, as we see with Chris Stapleton, Sturgill, and Margo, Aaron Lee Tasjan, to name a few. Margo has been so generous with me, inviting me to be part of really neat things as they come up, like her panel at AMA fest in Nashville last fall. I think a lot of people heard about me through that, and came out to my show, and its things like that which serve as the real confidence boosters. Feeling like the friends that you look up to and admire are also fans of your work is so invaluable. Thank you, Margo!

Your writing and delivery, for me, is as much West Coast influenced as Nashville. I detect certain parallels with artists such as Judee Sill and early Joni Mitchell for instance. Was this a sound that was influential to you when you were developing a musical direction? 

 I love Judee Sill. I think I discovered her on the Elizabethtown soundtrack, and the song Jesus Was A Crossmaker has become one of my recent favourites to try and cover. Those two voices weren't primary influences, but I do love them! I'd say my parents music and voices were the most directly inspiring/ taste-making for me, followed by Kate Campbell's voice, Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings, Slaid Cleaves, Greg Brown, John Prine, Feist, etc. I love great voices with strong songwriting. I definitely love the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Neil Young, etc., so I'm sure that has helped to create the laurel-y sound!

What’s next in terms of a career move for Erin Rae. Do you intend returning to Europe to further promote the album and is there a follow up album under consideration?

We are actually going into the studio on Sunday at Cory Chisel + Adriel Denae's place in Appleton, Wisconsin, which is called Refuge Foundation for the Arts. It’s a monastery, turned creative space, right on the Fox River. Dom Billett, Jerry Bernhardt and I will be the main players, with Dan Knobler engineering/producing. That will come out later this year. We will be returning to the UK in June!

Can we expect some dates in Ireland on your return to Europe? 

Yes! I believe those are in the works now, official announcement should be out soon via Clubhouse Records UK. Thank you so much for having me!

Interview by Declan Culliton – Friday 10th February 2017