Erin Rae McKaskle now hails from Nashville, though she's a Jackson, Tennessee native and was born in Memphis. Small wonder that she gravitated to Music City, given her easy and natural way with a tune. And small wonder that she's now on the cusp of much greater recognition. Her show at the Memphis Music Mansion may be our last chance to see her in such an intimate setting.
With so many singer/songwriters unconsciously internalizing the vocal mannerisms of the time, morphing their voices into a common denominator of the current trends (can you say "vocal fry"?), Erin Rae presents a disarming, unaffected frankness, and that is her greatest strength. The final product, as on her recent album Putting On Airs (Single Lock Records), is light and breezy, yet cut with the gravitas of her plainspoken lyrics and delivery.
"Love Like Before" reads like a prosaic list of the features of a new apartment, but suggests an inner turmoil and longing beneath the low key observations. The kicker comes at the end, "Been sitting right here and I could not find/Love that I knew before," made all the more powerful by the unadorned lyrics preceding it.
The new album, recorded at Refuge Studios, a former monastery in Wisconsin, offers plenty of air. The spare adornments, such as tasteful pedal steel, piano, organ, or even Mellotron, never detract from the front-and-center acoustic guitar that grounds her voice, yet add a dreamy quality to the affair. You can hear the consummate blend on the official video for "June Bug":
Her band will be with her, giving listeners a chance to hear those ethereal, spot-on arrangements from the record come to life. For those chasing that perfect blend of sincerity and craftsmanship, this show is not to be missed.