Rachel Austin, the Virginia born but Belfast based musician has released this intriguing little five-track EP, ‘Age of Reason’. The EP was funded through the cutely named ‘Austin in Austin’ campaign and saw Austin, Rachel that is, record her album in the USA with Brian Beattie. A partnership that clearly flourished as the pair set about creating a progressive and inventive sound. The EP completes the ‘Age of’ series after ‘Age of Wisdom’ (2010) and ‘Age of Love’ (2011), so lets hope that there is just one reason to listen to Rachel Austin.
The EP begins with Appletree, a track that soothes you nicely into the EP, Rachel delights as she sings “god on the mountain top /bring a quick end” during the chorus. It also gives you an insight into Austin, an artist who clearly revels in the odd and peculiar as her inflections and off beat delivery can somewhat seem jarring for the listener on first listen. It does however become infectious and provides the listener with something that bit different, a welcome change from finishing an artists sentence upon first listen.
On Don’t Call Me, Austin decides to strip back everything as her vocals almost become spoken word, the drum beat lazy and methodical, the guitar simple and unfortunately the lyrics follow suit and feel uninspiring – a track to avoid. Dark Eyes restores the faith with the return of the intriguing and moody musings of Austin. “I saw you making eyes at me from beside your wife, do you really think she’s blind” she sprouts as the reverb-littered, echoing guitar exists behind her vocals. “Where have the eyes of my lord gone” she asks, the answer is unclear.
Don’t Go is a fine specimen of a song. It takes a while for the song to grow but with the right investment of time, the song will begin to wrap its musical arms around you and give you an almighty cuddle. It begins softly and trudges along at a slow and meandering pace. Austin’s voice is at its sweetest during this track as she just concentrates on singing the lyrics. The difference however between this and Don’t Call Me, is that there is clearly added layers to this track that make it a more engaging and enjoyable listen.
Control ends the album and showcases all the quirky, odd and sometimes bizarre elements of her songwriting and song sculpting. From the vocal breath explosions acting as bass, the circus-esque sounding drums to the off the wall lyrics, this song really shows what seems to be the real and uncensored Austin. Once again, the track is so oddly different that you need to invest your time and surround yourself within Austin’s mad world. The song hits its crescendo as Austin declares: “you could have made a bastard of mother, oh you could have kicked her to the ground”. The meaning and vigor becomes clear within her voice and acts as the best vocal appearance on the EP.
As an artist and an EP, it’s not a easy-listening sit back, relax and listen to type EP. You’ll have to invest your time wisely within this EP, give it time, see beyond the odd inflections and lyrics and immerse yourself in Rachel Austin’s world – for when you do, you’ll be glad that you have.
Rachel Austin is currently on her Irish tour, catch her at a venue near you. Check here for details.