By Kate Montero
Special for The Squall
Rachael Yamagata released her first album Happenstance in 2004, on RCA Victor. It took her a total of two years to finally release a two disc masterpiece, Elephants… Teeth Sinking into Heart, because of a conflict with the label.
She released Elephants… Teeth Sinking Into Heart in 2008 with Warner Bros. Record. Previously stated, the album is separated into two discs, each contrasting the other significantly.
The first disc, Elephants, has a dark, haunting and intimate tone. Starting off the disc is the actual song, “Elephants.” This song is powerful and sung with such raw and real emotion. The fragile strength in her voice paired with beautifully broken lyrics about love and lust make this song an absolute favorite. The album itself is told like a story.
Listening to this album, the listener is brought through Rachael’s hardships and her journey through darkness and rediscovery and eventually acceptance of the inevitable as seen in the last song on the disc, “Horizon.”
Each song has its own background and story to tell. Some, like “Sunday Afternoon” are perfect to listen and cry to after a hard day, whereas, the song “Duet” in which Yamagata is joined by Ray LaMontagne, provides relief to the darkness heard in “Sunday Afternoon.” “Duet” is a very relatable song which is sung very sweet and delicately. It is a song of simple beauty and creates a personal feel to the album.
The beautifully haunting feel of the first part in this album as a whole is deeply contrasted by the gritty rock sounds produced in “Teeth Sinking Into Heart.” Although this part of the album is not as strong as the first, It is still very interesting to listen to and contrasts well with “Elephants.”
One thing that really makes her different from other artists are her lyrics. Her words are poetry. In the very first track, “Elephants”, this lyrical honesty is shown in her allusion to how cruel and animalistic love can be, when describing a tiger: “And I am dreaming of them with their kill/ Tearing it all apart/ Blood dripping from their lips and teeth sinking into heart.”
This is disturbing, yet beautiful. Overall, this album is very impressive, and really shows Yamagata’s skill as an artist, and as a chameleon as she explores genres in rock and alternative with a little mix of indie.