An artist as great as Erin Rae deserves a room packed to the brim at her live shows, and though her show at New York City’s City Winery on July 14 seemed criminally under attended, the audience was rapt. Rae released her new record Putting On Airs earlier this summer, and its pastoral mix of Laurel Canyon airiness and southern warmth has created a buzz. Rae’s vocals are bewitching, and her songwriting down to earth and refreshingly real. Her live performance, like her record, is a breath of fresh air, her voice floating over the room creating a kind of dreamy haze.
Joined onstage by her bandmate and one of the album’s producers, Jerry Bernhardt, Rae’s harmonies were rich and full. Much of the vocals on Putting On Airs are harmonies, so hearing her voice alone and live was a reminder of just how gorgeous and strong it really is. Upon first listen to Putting On Airs, it may not feel like a country record. But it seems to become one over time when you dive into it. Rae evokes artists like Emmylou Harris and Joni Mitchell on songs like her album’s title track and “Grand Scheme,” and that sun-drenched 70s vibe really took shape at her show.
Other standouts from the evening included “Can’t Cut Loose,” “June Bug” and “Bad Mind.” The softness in her voice captivates and holds you as you listen, warm and loving, like she’s caring for you by singing to you. There’s a natural Southern sweetness to Rae, who expressed endless gratitude for her collaborators and her loved ones on stage. A few earthy strums on the acoustic guitar and her smooth, clear howl has the power to transport you somewhere you dream of being, particularly on songs like “Real Thing” and “Wild Blue Wind.” This record, and her performance of it in the candlelit room at City Winery, made me feel longing – for people I miss, for places I love – and that’s all you could ever ask for from live music.
Photo credit Marcus Maddox