Live Review: Rachel Garlin at Room 5 Lounge

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Material: Singer/songwriter Rachel Garlin’s music can be categorized as more than just songs, but as lyrical stories. “Broke Down House” tells the tale of friends who were offered a decent sum for their house, but turned it down because it was their home. “The Sea You See” is an ode to her mother, a Scottish traveler who found herself in America after planning on going to New Zealand.

“Wartime Gig” is about her father growing up during WWII, and “I Have, I Will” is a beautiful love song for her wife. What’s most notable about Garlin’s lyricism is that she doesn’t tend to write about herself; she’s more interested in the stories of others.

Musicianship: Garlin has a very soothing quality about her, not just in the simplicity of her melodies, but also in her singing voice. In this performer’s world, simple isn’t a bad thing as she lets the stories in her lyrics be the star of the performance. Stripped down with only an acoustic guitar, there is nothing for the singer to hide behind, which helps prove her talent.

Performance: Though her music is simple and sweet, that isn’t to say her presence at this show was anything less than enthralling. She told a story of being a teacher, and it honestly made so much sense given her ability to speak to an audience. Garlin is clearly adept at holding a room’s attention. Even with a minor hiccup in her set—she started a song wrong—Garlin nevertheless held the audience, joking about her miscue before moving forward. By the end, she brought Eisenberg and Collins—who’d performed earlier that night—to join her on stage, and the three meshed together wonderfully as they breathed a new life into the finale of Garlin’s set. This is a singer/ songwriter who practically glows while performing, and it is obvious she loves what she’s doing.

Summary: Rachel Garlin is more than just a singer; she’s a storyteller with an infectious radiance about her that can enthrall an audience. She is clearly a musician performing without an agenda, and just a love of music.

The Players: Rachel Garlin, guitar; Kate Isenberg and Heather Collins, backup vocals.

Venue: Room 5 Lounge
City: Los Angeles, CA