Marking the arrival of a stunning new voice from the American South, Billboard today premiered indie singer-songwriter Erin Rae’s highly anticipated new album title track, ‘Putting On Airs’ (album released June 8). Billboard chatted to Rae and her new label boss, the Civil Wars’ John Paul White, who signed Rae to his label Single Lock Records, after he was wowed by her live performance. Watch here
Talking to Billboard John Paul White said, “I felt like someone was playing a trick on me; ‘This girl is phenomenal. Why don’t I know she exists? She seemed so at ease, so at peace in her skin. You don’t see that much, especially from musicians who are still opening shows. Her pitch was amazing, I loved the melodies. I was smitten.”
Discussing the track, Rae stated, “A recurring theme throughout the album, this is me reckoning with different aspects of my own experience in relationships. This is a song about addiction, not feeling super-connected to yourself, and trying to get in a relationship (or have flings) to feel loved and accepted. It’s about not coming from a whole place when trying to be with someone, so you end up feeling like the taker instead of an equal partner.”
Gifted with the unique ability to fuse musical genres and influences to craft songs that feel fresh and wholly her own, with ‘Putting On Airs’, Rae has thrown down a direct challenge to the stereotype of what a southern singer should be. Both musically and lyrically, she strikes a fiercely independent chord, proudly releasing a deeply personal record that reflects her own experience and upbringing in Tennessee and her personal struggle to understand her own sexuality. According to Rae, “this album was born out of a need to do some healing work in my personal life, to address some fears and patterns of mine in order to allow my true feelings to come to the surface.”
Rae, whose genre-fusing mix of traditional folk, indie-rock, and 1960s psych-rock production has landed her collaborations with artists like Margo Price and Andrew Combs, steps into the spotlight with ‘Putting On Airs’, already landing the critical attention from influential music media, including Noisey, Nashville Scene, Vulture, Rolling Stoneand NPR. Rae recently appeared on World Cafe Nashville, performing tracks and chatting with Ann Powers about the major themes of the record, including mental health, personal growth and healing, and reflections on the prejudices and injustices that she witnessed as a child growing up in Tennessee in the 1990s. Discussing the forthcoming record, Powers noted that “Putting On Airs augments Rae’s natural grace with subtle strokes of Mellotron and pedal steel, recalling the dreamy folk-pop of artists like Jackson Browne or even the Carpenters.”
The album was recorded in the dead of winter at The Refuge, a former Franciscan monastery turned creative space run by singer-songwriters Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae in Appleton, WI. This unique setting provided the perfect backdrop for Erin and her bandmates to track these genre-busting songs, using the chapel and other unique spaces within the cavernous building to explore new sonic boundaries, all while continuing to showcase Erin’s trademark vocals and the song-serving restraint first heard on her critically-acclaimed 2015 debut album, ‘Soon Enough’ (engineered and produced by Anderson East and Mike Rinne). The album’s unique sound of the record is inspired by the innovative 1960s European production techniques from artists like the Beatles and Francoise Hardy, paired alongside the restraint and minimalism of modern artists likeAngel Olsen, Richard Hawley, Twain and Michael Nau, bridging the sonic gap between classic songwriting and a modern indie-rock ethos. The album was co-produced by engineer Dan Knobler (Rodney Crowell, Tift Merritt) and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Bernhardt. Dominic Billett also served an integral role in the collective that worked together to create the album’s innovative and varied sonic pallet, providing the perfect soundscape for Erin’s soothing vocals, bathing everything in the warmth and purity that has become her trademark sound.
Buoying the release is Rae’s reputation as an enthralling live performer, which has earned her the respect of Nashville peers and music notables alike, including Grammy Award winner John Paul White, who has signed her to his Florence, Alabama-based label, Single Lock Records. Rae joins a Single Lock roster that includes Nicole Atkins and White himself, who added, “When I first heard Erin’s compelling voice, I knew nothing about her. It was live, with no intro (she was opening for friends of mine), and I was instantly transfixed. I couldn’t wait to engage, and that’s something I very seldom feel, much less do. I was thrilled to find out her personality was as engaging as her voice and songs, and that she was looking for a home. I couldn’t be happier to be hitching our wagons together.”
A busy tour schedule, including spring support dates with the Mountain Goats and Margo Price, and an appearance at End Of The Road Festival in the UK, and support from media including The Guardian and the BBC, shows Erin Rae’s star is on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic.
PUTTING ON AIRS TRACK LIST:
Putting On Airs
Can’t Cut Loose
Love Like Before
Like The First Time
The Real Thing
Anchor Me Down
Wild Blue Wind