Rachel Brooke Embraces Classic Country Spirit on ‘The Loneliness in Me’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Michigan may not be the first place you think of when you think about country music, but if you spend enough time exploring music, you’re bound to find the unexpected. Rachel Brooke is a country artist from Michigan that makes you take notice. Just ask Shooter Jennings, who said, “Rachel is just hitting her stride, but is proving that we should all be keeping our eyes on her.”

On her new album The Loneliness in Me, Brooke embraces the spirit of classic country with strong vocals and melodies that are tailor-made for a jukebox in a dark dive bar.

Right from the beginning of “It’s Not over ‘til You’re Crying”, you can’t help but notice the similarity to Sarah Shook in Brooke’s vocals. The big difference is in the way the vocals are recorded. A lot of Brooke’s vocals are recorded in a spacey way that lends a bit of psychedelia to the sound.

The title track is an interesting one. While the songs that precede it are have a more airy sound, this one one is more upbeat with just a tinge of rockabilly sound. The rockabilly aspect of the song comes mainly from the guitar part, which sounds a lot like something you’d hear in a Dwight Yoakam song. The beat is enough to get couples two-stepping on a well-scuffed wood dance floor in a dark honky tonk. 

It’s pretty fair to say that Brooke has one foot in the past and one foot in the present. “Picture on the Wall” is a good example of her attention to the past. The melody – especially the piano – brings Patsy Cline to mind. That’s not the only similarity to Patsy Cline that you’ll hear on the album. Like Cline, Brooke is pretty good at singing the sad songs. “Undecided Love” is one of those sad songs. In it, the narrator is forlorn singing about someone whose “love is the undecided kind”. Like a lot of good, sad songs, this one goes heavy on the pedal steel (especially in the instrumental break), but also features a mandolin part that only adds to the lonesome feel.

Shooter Jennings is right. Rachel Brooke is an artist to keep your eyes (and ears) on. It’s safe to assume that she has spent a lot of time listening to old country records because she captures the spirit of old country music in every song, especially in the sad ones.

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