Andrew Rae is a London-based artist who uses music as a “break from drawing and painting.” His latest EP release is Watching the Sky With You, inspired by the birth of his son and daughter.
Rae tells us that he’s recorded solo music “purely because it makes [him] happy.” That joy feeds through starting from the title-cut starter “Watching The Sky With You.” From the opening Lindsey Buckingham-style guitar figures through the ending fadeout layered with kids’ voices, the track is a dreamy wash of pop. The multiple vocals tracks are deeply echoed, with music-box keyboards dancing over the top. Rae’s music transports you exactly to the spot in the song: laying on your back, just you and that one other special person, and there’s nothing else in the world for those few moments. Ahh.
I was so enamored of the first track that I almost stopped listening, to avoid any letdowns. I’m glad I kept going, though, as “Walking With Rita” is a delight as well. It’s an upbeat, ‘60s-surf-rock-feel love song that Rae’s written to his daughter. It starts with the usual I-vi-IV-V progression, but Rae throws in a twist which works perfectly. The backing “oohs” and vintage keyboard sound terrific, and again Rae’s music transports us to a simple, happy spot--a nighttime walk with your best girl. There is a bit of humor in the lyrics too: “she keeps me up all night” takes on a slightly different meaning in the context of a newborn daughter!
All this happiness, and three more tracks to go! “Waiting for the First Light of Day” reprises the layered feel of the title track with its echoed vocals, fingerpick-style electric guitar figure, and music-box keyboards. The outro features a tasteful guitar solo and some nicely varying keyboard sounds that evoke the sun’s rays breaking through.
“Vaseline”, up next, is a bit of a curveball. It’s a rocking, fast track (with some nice piano thump underneath) that could have been a lost Bowie single. Rae describes the lyrics as “the vaseline coated lens you get when you look back on your old life” — “there were never any bad times / all I wanted was the good times.” The chorus is very cool, and there are ripping guitars throughout. Rae’s bottled a feeling and served it to us over ice; it goes down just so.
Watching The Sky With You closes with “Pulled My Boots Up.” The layered production continues in a Beach Boys-meets-Jefferson Airplane jam session vibe: blues riffs, chorused guitars, Wurlitzers and stellar bass lines. The final build out feels like a band having fun--even if it’s only Rae playing.
Wow. What a set. Andrew Rae has delivered a fantastic EP in Watching The Sky With You. The songs all put us in a precise location, and show us how we should be feeling in the moment. It’s masterful. Let him take you.
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