The angelic, dancing sounds of singer-songwriter Rachael Sage are feather-light and epically romantic — never more so than on her latest record, Choreographic (self-released on May 20). Here, her breathy vocals float alongside swooning strings and piano notes, creating a big setting for her rootsy, narrative lyrics. Sage’s sometimes-saccharine songs may be too cheesy for some, but for those looking for a whisper-soft, dreamy soundscape, Choreographic will hit the spot.
There are hints of traditional Celtic folk throughout these instrumental arrangements and melodies, though her songs ultimately fit into a more contemporary, easy listening mold.
With 14 tracks to explore, you’ll get a glimpse of Sage at many stages. She gets twinkly and shimmery on “Heaven”, “Loreena,” and “Clear Today.” She shows a rowdier country side on “Try Try Try” and “I’ve Been Waiting.” And she goes for a sparser aesthetic on an acoustic version of “Home.” The overarching aesthetic has a strong pop leaning. Though much of it offers a sappiness akin to a Hallmark greeting card, it is uplifting stuff.
Sage favors a hushed, spoken-word style of singing, as though she’s reciting poetry, and her lyrics are poetic. She takes in dramatic cityscapes and confronts deeply emotional life obstacles with grace and honesty, and a hearty side of cheese. Heaven and angels are common imagery on Choreographic, and those who seek out music that’s a little more down-to-earth may find it too fluffy.
It might be interesting to hear Sage ditch the theatrical production of some of the bigger songs on Choreographic and focus on a less fanciful, more barren sound. No doubt her aesthetic decision to make this record a kind of mystical, fantastical journey will no doubt find favor with some. But for this listener, it didn’t quite resonate. The over-the-top breathlessness of it all kept the music too high up in the clouds to ever truly grab hold.