Rachel Grimes is a contemporary classical pianist and composer from Louisville, Kentucky. She was a founding member of the highly esteemed instrumental post-rock/chamber orchestra band Rachel’s. Not “The Rachels”. Not “Rachels”. Singular possessive. “Rachel’s”. They put out five albums between 1995 and 2003. All of them are hauntingly beautiful. More often than not, they were darker than a thousand midnights, but amazingly beautiful music. The band was actually started by Rodan guitarist Jason Noble (who passed away in 2012) as a solo project, but as luck had it, Rachel Grimes was among the first musicians that he enlisted. She ended up taking the lead in that band. It was all about her and her masterful piano playing.
Since Rachel’s stopped working together, Rachel Grimes has released three solo records, including the magnificent 2009 album Book of Leaves, which was truly a “solo” record. Rachel on the piano, and some field recordings of birds. That’s it. She’s also collaborated with a bunch of Louisville bands and done some film and television soundtrack stuff.
She has a new album coming out on May 26 via Temporary Residence, and tonight’s song is the first sneak peek at that album. The album has everything that you expect a Rachel Grimes project to have: mostly piano, with some violin, viola, cello, and percussion. It’s also got some sort of woodwind instrument. I’ll assume a clarinet or some kind of saxophone. Apparently, there’s also a harpist on the album.
Here’s “The Herald”.
I’ve gone back and forth about that woodwind instrument. I still can’t decide whether I like it or not. I’m generally not a fan of that family of instruments, but I don’t automatically dismiss songs or bands because of woodwinds.
I really like the bit from about 1:15 to about 1:45 when the piano is driving and all of the strings are riding shotgun. The horn is riding in the backseat being quiet and being kinda cool about it. Later on, the horn gets a little closer to the front of the mix, but not enough to put me off. Later still, at about 3:45 the horn does this cool little thing that I didn’t even notice the first two or three times I listened. It does an impersonation of a violin. And it’s fantastic.
It’s a beautiful song that shows me something new each time I listen to it. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.
The Clearing comes out on May 26, and you can pre-order it from Temporary Residence here. Temporary Residence typically ships pre-orders out to arrive two weeks ahead of the street date, so there’s good incentive to order the physical release.