Rachel Yamagata is leaving her home in the Windy City at the right time. The 20-something singer/songwriter has been quietly building critical attention for her two musical releases, the self-evident EP and this year’s Happenstance.
Yet, her appearances outside of Chicago so far have been in support of others, including Damien Rice, Liz Phair, and Gomez.
Yamagata made a splash during her L.A. showcase and signed with RCA in the spring of last year. Her songs are about heartbreak and the awkwardness of relationships (although she swears she’s a happy person in real life), and the ballads are sung with a breathy, sultry voice.
The piano player and sometimes guitarist sang backup and played tambourine five years for Chicago funk outfit Bumpus, but she never felt she had a proper amount of creative input. In the meantime, she attended theatre classes at Northwestern University and built a catalog of her own songs.
With a little luck and the usual hard work, Yamagata could grab some of the attention that’s been afforded other piano playing young women, but comparisons to Fiona Apple and Norah Jones are oversimplified because the three play piano.
Find out for yourself: Yamagata is criss-crossing the U.S. from September through November, from New York City to San Diego. After an intimate show at NYC’s Fez Under Time August 31st, Yamagata hits Philadelphia, Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with other stops, before winding things October 21st. (She visits Chicago September 30th.)
Tom McRae supports most dates.