With a discography now totalling 14 albums, American folk singer-songwriter Rachael Sage certainly qualifies for veteran status. She digs very deep on Character, a song cycle written while she was recovering from endometrial cancer in 2018.
Sage possesses a clear and direct vocal style that brings Suzanne Vega to mind. Her unaffected approach is refreshing at a time when so many younger artists sound contrived in their angst-ridden stance. Mixed in with her eloquent and reflective original compositions are some covers. Ani DiFranco is cited as an inspiration by Sage, and her string-quartet-fuelled take on DiFranco’s “Both Hands” is a fresh one.
Less successful is a version of CSNY’s famed protest song, “Ohio,” one demanding more anger and passion than on display here. Far stronger are the title cut, featuring a neat interplay between guitars and strings, the gently atmospheric opening track “Blue Sky Days,” and the strings-drenched “Bravery’s On Fire.” The production values and musicianship throughout are of the highest order, with the guitar work of James Mastro (Patti Smith) a standout. A release recommended for fans of the folk-pop of the Lilith Fair era. (MPress)