Material: With probing, diary-like lyrics, Tori Amos-esque vocal delivery and a self-assuredness on stage that only comes from years of being on the road and pounding the pavement, the effervescent Rachael Sage calls to mind the empowered female singer-songwriters who reigned over the ‘90s pop charts (namely Natalie Merchant, Paula Cole and Jewel). The indie queen and road warrior has a collection of music as vast and impressive as her CV, and is a mini-mogul of sorts, spearheading her own label of over 20 years, Mpress Records, and touring with the likes of Beth Hart, Ani DiFranco and Howard Jones.
Musicianship: Sage and her accompanying band, the Sequins are extremely tight and professional, and from the looks of it, have also been performing for many years together. Andy Mac’s drumming is perfect; very solid and non-invasive, and Kelly Halloran’s violin adds such a nice, extra flavor to Sage’s music. Impressive also is Sage’s adeptness at keyboard and guitar. While she seems most at home behind a piano, her switching up instruments and even performing a few songs a cappella kept the audience guessing, and made for a far more entertaining watch.
Performance: Perhaps one of the most memorable and fun aspects of Sage’s show would be her use of color (in both her fashion and music). From her iridescent jacket and unicorn sunglasses to her bouncy, sing-song-y melodies, this performer truly lights up the room in every sense. Among the standout tunes of the evening was the uplifting “Alive” and “Spark,” but there was something about “This Darkness,” which seemed to be the odd man out during the set, and it evoked a deep, almost chemical reaction. The forlorn, gypsy-like tune employed a somber, wah-effected violin throughout, and showed a much more vulnerable side of Sage that the world should really see and hear more of. She closed out the evening with an animated spoken-word piece, “Hit Song,” that for a moment made you feel as if you were watching a performance at a Beat Generation-era club in New York, where she actually hails from.
Summary: Rachael Sage is an artist who truly commands respect, whether or not her music is your cup of tea. A completely self-made woman, this admirable artist has forged a successful career in a completely tempestuous and unpredictable industry, and she still manages to find the time to paint, fashion her own clothes, and involve herself with a variety of different charities. Contrary to her recent album title, Rachael Sage is anything but myopic.
Players: Andy Mac, drums; Kelly Halloran, violin, background vocals; Rachael Sage, keyboard, guitar, lead vocals