Life in America is full of contradictions, and on her new album Shame, Rachel Baiman gets right into it. The titular and first track calls out all the holy rollers and goody-two-shoes: “Any man can own the right to do as he pleases / And any man can walk away from the love he wants to leave / There I’ll be left standing with a child and a dream / so I will find my own way to triumphant jubilee.” She doesn’t back down from that mood throughout the following nine tracks. “Spare me the saving from my unholy life,” she asks of listeners on “Let Them Go to Heaven.”
Baiman is a Chicago native with a radical political background. Her music feels influenced by some of the best of her contemporaries like Paul Cauthen (compare the last track here, “Let Them Go to Heaven” to Cauthen’s “Gospel” off his last album, My Gospel) or Caroline Spence, while also paying homage to southern rockers like The Band.
“Somewhere in the writing and recording process of this album, I gained a real feeling of liberation,” Baiman wrote over email. “This is the first album I’ve made where I truly feel comfortable in my own skin, and I talked about some tough and personal subjects, so I guess I kind of had to be. I guess pushing myself to take a leap and record these original songs and seem come together in a way that I loved so much gave me the confidence to keep going and dig deeper.
“The album was recorded over a series of different sessions, so I was writing in between recording,” she continued. “It was also the first situation in which I had complete freedom to use any instrumentation I wanted. There was no impending tour or band release, I didn’t have a plan for what the album was going to be prior to making it, and I think that allowed a certain amount of magic to happen. ”
Shame is out June 2 via Free Dirt Records & Service Co.
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