Sophie Rae is a Colorado native living in Chicago. She came to the second city with a guitar, a banjo and plenty of talent for all the strings and other things. So let’s end the Taylor Swift comparisons before they even begin—Sophie Rae is more in tune with folk, blues, country and the guitar in general than Swift ever was or ever will be.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Taylor Swift, but Sophie Rae is worthy of an audience with a significantly more refined musical pallet. But that doesn’t mean she can’t appeal to a wide audience. Which is where her debut release Happenstance comes into play.
Where Gabrielle Aplin and Lucy Rose dominate records with mellow, melancholy and moody, Sophie Rae stays relatively upbeat on the Happenstance EP (and how could she not with a banjo on her knee?). The songs are honest, straight from life experience and deceptively simple.
The first song “Atlas” is little more than an electric guitar and a tambourine. Her voice really steals the show though, changing registers on a dime, and packing serious gusto, perfect for usurping a whole tavern’s attention on a Friday or Saturday evening.
My favorite song here might be the last one, “Foster” purely for personal nostalgia. The old-timey feel reminds of a soundtrack for a Chuck Jones cartoon—an integral component of my childhood. Rae does a superb job crafting her voice to fit her music here and on the other five songs. This kind of intimacy between a woman and her instrument warrants much deserved praise. Grab her EP on Bandcamp, or see her at a show if you’re in Chicago. I’ll probably be there.
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