The gentle in constant contrast with the wild
Coming out of the folk scene in the UK, artist Rachael Dadd has been producing and releasing music for almost two decades. Releasing her first album in 2004, Dadd has worked with many international artists from Japan and Europe and has made a name for herself in the festival scene in Europe. Compared to her earlier works such as Flux, Dadd has described the new album Kaleidoscope as much more “personal and honest” and “largely rooted in truth and love.”
The intimate nature of the album can be seen in the similarities to those who have inspired her. Dadd has named a few artists and composers as inspiration, including folk artists Joni Mitchell, pop artists like Kate Bush, and even classical style composers like Steve Reich and John Tavener.
Tavener was known for his choral religious works, which Dadd incorporated into the first track, “Children of the Galaxy.” The cannon loops of the vocals give the impression of a religious choir. To further the classical expression, on the second track, “Footsteps,” Dadd enlisted the help of other artists to collaborate and add new instrumentation. Clarinet, flute and Marimba add a flash of classical color to create an ethereal sound. The soft classical undertones help bolster the folk music behind the album.
In “For Honey and Ray,” the 8th track, the piece opens with a rapid piano reminiscent of a Quartet: Mvt III by Reich. The energetic piano introduces an excited guitar and the honey-like chorus. The song evolves into a collage as various musical voices are layered throughout. About halfway through the song the angelic vocals and calm guitar get interrupted by the piano and a brassy instrument, before weaving together again. The gentle in constant contrast with the wild.
Some of the best examples of contrasts in the album comes from the second single released, “Heads Down.” The piece complements vibrant and poppy energy through the space-age synth with the bouncy staccato from the guitar with the lonely realization of the song. The narrator has hit burnout and gets in over their head. Hence needing to keep your head down and referencing “hitting a wall” earlier in a verse. The melancholy content inside a groovy exterior.
The collaborations and various influences that went into this album makes it a relaxing and engaging experience.