If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “No Substitute” by Rachel Goswell (2004, from the album Waves Are Universal).
Rachel Goswell is a dreampop/shoegaze goddess-turned-folk singer/songwriter from Fareham, England. She’s known for being the bassist/singer and co-front of the legendary shoegaze band Slowdive in the early- to mid-1990s. When that band was dropped by Creation Records, the bulk of the band carried on, but took the opportunity to move in a different musical direction. They renamed themselves Mojave 3 and drastically changed their style to become a folk band. They released five albums between 1995 and 2006 and are currently “on hiatus”.
Astute readers may also remember that I’ve featured Rachel Goswell on this blog in one other way. She did a duet with Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) on that brilliant tribute to John Denver. You know that one that I’m always on about. They did a magnificent version of “Around and Around”, which always gives me goose bumps on top of goose bumps. Go here to revisit my post about that song.
By the time Mojave 3 took their pause, Goswell had already released her first and only solo record Waves Are Universal. Neil Halstead had also already released his first solo record.
After the release of the last Mojave 3 record in 2006, Rachel Goswell announced that she was going to be unable to tour with the band. Because of sudden significant loss of hearing in her left ear and lingering problems associated with tinnitus. Neither she nor Mojave 3 has put out another record since then.
A couple of years later, Goswell gave birth to a son named Jesse. He has CHARGE Syndrome. The congenital syndrome affects the nervous system, growth, vision, and hearing. Jesse is profoundly deaf. Her own health aside, caring for a special needs child is and should be a higher priority in Goswell’s life than making new records.
For a couple of years, there’s been some speculation about a new Mojave 3 record, and Goswell has said that a new solo record “will be along at some point as soon as it decides to manifest itself”. As many fantastic records as Goswell has given us, we’re not going to have our feelings hurt if she decides to permanently put family first.
Waves Are Universal is a beautiful and underrated album. Sometimes, even forgotten in the canon of Goswell’s other works. I can’t really pick a favorite song on the album, but I sure do like this one a lot.
“No Substitute” by Rachel Goswell
I really like the piano bits in this song and the way that Goswell’s vocals are highlighted. All you really need to know about this song, though, is this lyric:
I go about my daily life through motions
that don’t mean a thing.
Counting down the hours every day
’til I can see you again
You can buy Waves Are Universal from the amazon store here. Trust me on this, though. You really want a physical copy. It was released on 4AD Records, back when 4AD was still 4AD. Find a physical copy somewhere.
Please also consider giving to the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation. Go here for details.