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Selections from Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart - EP

Rachael Yamagata

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Album Review

Rachael Yamagata's voice has made numerous appearances since her solo debut in 2004: on albums by Ray LaMontagne and Rhett Miller, on TV sitcoms, on Ryan Adams & the Cardinals' acclaimed Cold Roses, and on a pair of Yamagata's own EPs. Despite such a flurry of activity, however, the songwriter found herself dropped from the RCA roster after Happenstance's release, a move that prolonged the finishing of her second studio LP. Arriving in 2008 on the Warner Bros. label, Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart literally splits Yamagata's musical personality into two parts — the first disc, Elephants, pitches its tent closer to the Happenstance camp with lushly textured ballads, while Teeth Sinking Into Heart plays up the singer's debt to rock artists like PJ Harvey.

The latter CD is the biggest surprise here, as it displays a swaggering confidence that wasn't as evident on Yamagata's previous releases. She raises her voice in volume and pitch, affecting a measured snarl during songs like "Sidedish Friend" and "Faster." The potent set ends with "Don't," a weary ballad that recalls Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood and flaunts an expletive-filled refrain. While the song's lyrics are aligned with the rest of Teeth Sinking Into Heart, its sound still emphasizes Yamagata's strength as a master of slow-moving, wounded love songs. Elephant furthers that bittersweet style with ten songs (one of them hidden), effectively doubling the size of Teeth. The disc features a gorgeous cameo by Ray LaMontagne, whose Southern croon does a slow dance with Yamagata on the aptly named "Duet." Like LaMontagne's most intimate material, Elephant moves in quiet circles, mining Yamagata's heartbroken past for melodic effect while dressing up her songs in layers of strings, woodwinds, and acoustic instruments. This is where her voice truly shines — even when it seemingly hides from the spotlight, reducing itself to a cracked whisper while delivering Yamagata's lyrics. Fittingly, she matches such strong songcraft with equally strong content. "So for those of you falling in love," she advises during the first disc's title track, "keep it kind, keep it good, keep it right. Throw yourself in the midst of danger, but keep one eye open at night." Spoken like a true veteran of solitude and heartbreak, and performed like one of the strongest songwriters to emerge during the early 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Finally...

After 4 years, Rachael Yamamgata is finally releasing her album in October (i think [i hope]). But until then, this sampling off of Elephants & Teeth Sinking Into Heart will have to do. And after listening to this EP, i highly doubt her anxious fans will be disappointed. The emotion she conveys through her music is unreal, and her somehow morosely beautiful voice and piano playing are just golden. If you're a hardcore fan, you must buy the EP; or i guess it would be alright to wait for the album, if you think you can muster enough patience and fortitude. However, if you are a new listener, i recommend dabbling in her first album (it's quite wonderful) to get used to her raw emotion and almost overpowering musical presence.

just for a little while. . .

I have been waiting for her new album for so long. This EP will help tide me over. Rachael is amazing and her music always stirs up something inside me or maybe it's the burger I just ate. You should buy anything this woman puts out there. I do and don't you wanna be like me?

A standout - More please...

A great sneak peek at the upcoming two-part album in October. The first two songs follows the themes in Happenstance and packs it with even more beauty and emotion. Then for the last two songs (Sidedish Friend and Accident), she rocks out and it's raw and great fun to listen. Can't wait for the full album from this wonderful songwriter. Check out her site for Loose Ends.

Biography

Born: September 23, 1977 in Arlington, VA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata grew up listening to Carole King, Roberta Flack, James Taylor, and the like, for music was the one thing in Yamagata's life that remained consistent. Her parents divorced when she was two, forcing her to find a balance between her German-Italian mother's apartment in New York City and the Washington, D.C. residence of her third-generation Japanese father. Such frequent travel readied Yamagata for a way of life that would eventually lead her to a professional singing...
Full Bio
Selections from Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart - EP, Rachael Yamagata
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