Rachael Yamagata: Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart

What a way we’ve come from Happenstance. Following up her striking debut album from nearly four years ago, Rachael Yamagata has returned to the scene with her collection Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into The Heart. The album is really a two-part collection: The first ten tracks, comprising Elephants, are slower, pondering drifters that comprised much of what we came to know through Happenstance. The last five songs comprise the stunning collection of …Teeth Sinking Into Heart, a rocky explosion of carnal, vindicated energy that comprised my futile dreams for what Kelly Clarkson‘s self-penned album should have sounded like.

There’s also the tender duet with Indie recluse, Ray LaMontagne. The track is so thoroughly stripped and intimate, the two artists might as well be performing at the listener’s side. Yamagata’s voice seems to have matured, maintaining an androgynous, Pink-like dose of rasp throughout the album. The stand away from the pack here is the soaring “Sunday Afternoon,” a ten minute foray through a forest of ambient air, longing strings, and marching beats, building mechanically to crashing heights: “I wont live for you, or die for you, do anything anymore for you, because you leave me here on the other side,” Yamagata climatically seethes, before the song drops out into its gorgeous, melancholy finish. The Country-tinged “Over And Over” is briefly mezmerizing, as the lonely twang of the guitar melds with a repetitive, aching chorus of “Over and over, and over and over again…Let it rain, let it rain.” The soundtrack to a rainy night’s drive home, for sure.

Much of Elephants moves slightly above a snail’s pace, so when the grinding guitar of “Sidedish Friend” comes rippling into the atmosphere with its confident intensity, it offers a welcome balance to the moody first half of the album. “Accident” comes in, unapologetically catchy, bends the twanginess of “Over and Over” into an all out bar-crashing, Western shoot-em-‘up. “Faster” is an incredible moment on Teeth, as Yamagata growls atop a clapping, stomping rocky crunch, “I’m going faster, you’re going backwards, you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” The taunting, “da-da-da” middle eight of the track is a brilliant moment, oozing cockiness and confidence previously unimagined by the aritst. The only disappointment that Teeth closes when it does, as I could have listened to that album for another ten tracks or more.

An entirely fulfilling follow-up to her debut, Elephants….Teeth Sinking Into Heart, Yamagata offers both signature style and unexpected new tricks, proving that we’ve not heard all that the artist has to offer. The album is a wonderful accomplishment for its genre this year, and perhaps one of the finest.

Be sure to check out Rachael’s site here, and go to iTunes to buy the record.

DL: Rachael Yamagata – Over And Over
DL: Rachael Yamagata – Elephants
DL: Rachael Yamagata – Sidedish Friend
DL: Rachael Yamagata – Accident

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