The first lyrics that Rachel Efron penned onto the wall of her childhood bedroom, just south of Portland, Maine, were from Paul Simon’s, Still Crazy After All These Years. What seemed a sizable but not overly worrisome transgression was in fact the first step down an ever-increasingly slippery slope. Certainly her favorite songs found a place. From the Beatles: “Here comes the sun, little darling.” From Van Morrison: “Call me up in dreamland / Radio to me, man / Get the message to me / Any way you can.” But soon, any new verse or chorus she as much as noticed went quickly to press: “I almost ran over an angel,” Tori Amos told her; “Did I disappoint you / Leave a bad taste in your mouth,” U2 asked her. The writing was on the wall, so to speak, but it had occurred to no one, least of all Rachel, herself, that she had a unusual interest in song lyrics, not to mention that she would, later in her life, undertake to write some of her very own.
As it turned out, that day was in the midst of her senior year at Harvard University. She was on an academic track, writing an honors thesis for the Social Anthropology department about a recent stint of fieldwork in Nicaragua. But even there, she was very clearly stalking the arts… Her Anthropology focus was language politics and within that, “poetics”… Basically, in lieu of making art, Rachel did the closest possible thing within academia and studied culture as if it were a piece of art. Also, alongside this work, she’d been honing her writing ability, via poetry and creative nonfiction, as well as her music ability, studying classical piano and clarinet, playing piano in various jazz ensembles, taking traditional music theory at Harvard plus private jazz lessons with a professor at Berklee College of Music, and transcribing whole albums to uncover precise ways they created their magic. Then finally, at long last, it simply occurred to Rachel to face artistry head on, and to marry her two loves of words and music.
For Rachel, writing her first song was like opening a present. And as odd and misshapen as the little thing was, she was enchanted. She persevered, and wrote a dozen more songs, all with the same sense of awe and delight, but with increasing savvy. By the end of that last year of college she was putting on concerts in the common rooms of dorms that drew hundreds of people. While New England’s still, long winters and muddy, welcome springs will always be the North Star of Rachel’s sensory relationship to the world, upon graduating, she challenged herself both personally and artistically with a move across the country to California’s Bay Area, whose varied music scene has served as her creative cocoon and catalyst for growth ever since. She has recorded four albums, working with the best musicians in the Bay Area and beyond, and established herself as having that most rare and precious quality of a unique artistic voice, not to mention a fresh sound that lives distinctly in the vein of singer/songwriter but with both unabashed jazz and classical sensibilities.
Rachel’s latest release, a four song EP, Angel No More, is her most exciting to date. She convened with one of her best music friends, producer Jon Evans (Tori Amos, Sarah MacLachlan) to create a more direct and robust sound space for her ever-ethereal voice, words, melodies, and harmonies. With contributions from drummer Matthias Bossi (Rabbit Rabbit), and vocal producer Julie Wolf (Ani Difranco, Dar Williams), among others, the tracks offer not just her most distilled songwriting and expressive performance, but also a backdrop of absolutely top-notch musicianship. Stand outs include the aggressive yet thoughtful, Angel No More, the raw ballad, Terrible Thing To Dream, the loving and languid, Love, I Think It Can Wait, and the equally comic and tragic jazz circus, Anyway. Angel No More has been played on over 45 radio stations across the US and beyond, and favorably reviewed by such venues as Pop Culture Classics: “If you haven’t yet discovered Rachel Efron, this is an ideal time. She has just released a spellbinding new EP. Upon hearing her voice, sweetly powerful and exceptionally expressive, you’ll be completely swept up in her music. That will happen within the first few notes. And her songwriting — drawing from pop, alt-folk, Broadway and jazz influences — is brilliant, sophisticated and complex, yet instantly accessible and immersive. Each subtle, emotional moment is eloquently enhanced by her sensitive touch on the piano. Nuances are added by guitar, bass, drums, trumpet and trombone.”
Rachel is currently hard at work conceiving of her forth full-length album, to be released early in 2017.