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PRAISE FOR THE MUSIC OF RACHEL EFRON
“Balancing fragility and strength, introspection and unblinking observation, Oakland singer, songwriter, and pianist Rachel Efron sets her lambent, poetically charged lyrics to soft, caressing melodies.” —Andrew Gilbert, SF Chronicle
“[Efron] is one of the artists who makes covering the arts so much fun and so complicated, too… You can’t fit her into any neat categories, jazz or pop. One of the reasons for her success is in fact because she’s not only a great singer but her songwriting is absolutely superb” —Cy Musiker and David Weigand, KQED of Northern California
“If you haven’t yet discovered Rachel Efron, this is an ideal time... Upon hearing her voice, sweetly powerful and exceptionally expressive, you’ll be completely swept up in her music. And her songwriting — drawing from pop, alt-folk, Broadway and jazz influences — is brilliant, sophisticated and complex, yet instantly accessible and immersive.” —Paul Freeman, Pop Culture Classics
“It’s not fair to leave a radio host speechless.” —Derk Richardson, KPFA’s Hear & Now
“Efron proves herself to be an exceptional singer-songwriter-pianist. Literate lyrics and haunting melodies make this collection special. Efron’s vocals are genuine, delicate and deeply moving.This is profoundly pleasurable pop with rich classical influences woven throughout.” —Paul Freeman, San Jose Mercury News
“The voice is airy, plaintive, the sound, seemingly detached, but it isn’t long — about three notes will do it — before Bay Area singer-songwriter Rachel Efron hooks you by the heart” —David Wiegand, SF Chronicle
“Rachel Efron has a sophistication that distinguishes her from the average young woman at a piano… There’s a lot of melancholy beneath Efron’s pretty patina, but that’s what makes it interesting.” —Rachel Swan, East Bay Express
“Efron has forged a distinct ‘art-pop’ sound for herself at the corner of jazz and pop with poetic lyrics and persuasive piano.” — Aimsel Ponti, Portland Press Herald
“Utterly laid-back piano pop that sucks the tension right out of the room. Efron makes it sound easy but there’s a reason so few artists get it right.” —Nate Seltenrich, East Bay Express
“Maine expat Rachel Efron combines a light, gentle touch on the piano with the eye and the voice of a poet to make some of the loveliest music one has heard, soft, intimate, ethereal, and strikingly genuine.” —Chris Patrick Morgan, San Francisco Examiner
“Need a stress reliever? Rachel Efron will soothe your troubles.” — Buzzworthy, Eugene Register Guard
The first lyrics that Rachel Efron scribbled onto the wall of her childhood bedroom, just south of Portland, Maine, were from Paul Simon’s, Still Crazy After All These Years. What seemed a not too worrisome transgression was in fact the first step down an ever-increasingly slippery slope. Certainly her favorite songs found a place. From the Beatles: “Here comes the sun, little darling.” From Van Morrison: “Call me up in dreamland / Radio to me, man / Get the message to me / Any way you can.” But soon, any new verse or chorus she so much as noticed went quickly to press: “I almost ran over an angel,” Tori Amos told her; “Did I disappoint you / Leave a bad taste in your mouth,” U2 asked her. The writing was on the wall, so to speak, but it had occurred to no one, least of all Rachel, herself, that she’d undertake to write some of her own lyrics someday.
As it turned out, that day was in the midst of her senior year of college, at Harvard University. She was committed to an academic track, writing an honors thesis for the Social Anthropology department about a recent stint of fieldwork in Nicaragua. But even there, she was very clearly stalking the arts… Her Anthropology focus was language politics and within that, “poetics”… Basically, in lieu of making art, Rachel did the closest possible thing within academia and studied culture as if it were a piece of art. Meanwhile, she honed her writing ability, via poetry and creative nonfiction, as well as her musicality, studying classical piano and clarinet, playing piano in various jazz ensembles, taking traditional music theory at Harvard plus private jazz lessons with a professor at Berklee College of Music, and transcribing whole albums to understand the methods to their magic. Finally, it occurred to her to introduce her two loves of words and music, and try her hand at writing a song. It felt like stealing away and opening a long-anticipated present… And as odd and misshapen as the little thing was, she was enchanted. She persevered, and wrote a dozen more songs, all with the same sense of awe and delight, but with increasing savvy. By the end of that year she was putting on concerts in the common rooms of dorms that drew hundreds of people.
While New England’s still, long winters and muddy, welcome springs will always serve as the landscape of Rachel’s understanding of the world, upon graduating, she challenged herself both personally and artistically with a move across the country to California’s Bay Area, whose varied music scene has served as her creative cocoon and catalyst for growth ever since. She recorded three full-length albums and one EP, working with the best musicians in the Bay Area and New England, and gained extensive critical acclaim. She played the Bay Area’s premier listening rooms (Freight and Salvage, Yoshi’s, The Independent), toured extensively on both the East and West Coasts, and had her music played on over 45 radio stations across the United States and beyond, time and again establishing herself as having that most rare and precious quality of a unique artistic voice, not to mention a fresh singer/songwriter sound with both unabashed jazz and classical sensibilities.
Rachel’s latest release, Human As I Came, is her most notable project to date. She wrote it over the course of a brutally challenging 6 year period of her life, when, upon finding herself ill with Lyme Disease, she was forced to come off the road, and for a time even stop performing altogether, to embark on a healing process on nearly every level. Each one of the hard-won songs reaches out to the world with the exposed rawness, bright hope, and brutal authenticity of one who has walked to the very edges of her life, then somehow found a way to turn back around and continue forward. Eventually she took the work to one of her best music friends, producer Jon Evans (Tori Amos, Sarah MacLachlan) and together they created the lush, haunted, rhythmic, and direct sound spaces in which they now reside. With Jon’s bass playing, alongside contributions from drummer Matthias Bossi (Rabbit Rabbit), trumpet player and horn arranger Erik Jekabson (Electric Squeezebox Orchestra), reed player Matt Renzi (Matt Renzi Trio), and trombonist Adam Theis (Jazz Mafia), Human As I Came offers not only Rachel’s most distilled songwriting and expressive performance, but also a backdrop of thrilling musicianship. Standouts include the delightfully saucy, “Little Bit Of Bad” the compellingly disturbing “Demeter’s Dream” and “Last Goodbye (Persephone’s Dream), and the loving and languid, “Hold Me In The Dark.”