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Rachel Ries at the Cake Shop 9-26-2013

27 Sep

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Blowing in like the prairie wind from her native South Dakota, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Rachel Ries graced the Cake Shop with a show last night, one in an initial series of gigs as Ries breaks back into the role of performer. In a previous life, Ries had been a constantly touring musician, put out records and played with the likes of Ana├»s Mitchell and Bon Iver before giving it all up to find some stability and peAce of mind. “Part of me,” she noted, “really just wants to be in the country growing things,” which is difficult if you are on the road all the time or holed up in studio apartments in Williamsburg.

For any jitters easing back into the performing life, though, Ries certainly hasn’t forgotten how to sing. The child of Mennonite missionaries, she has had a hymnal in her hands since she was old enough to hold one, and sings with a haunting, gorgeous rise and fall that seems to come as ethereally as wind and as naturally as breath. She played songs from her record Without A Bird and the Laurel Lake EP, including the sprawling, confessional “Holiest Day,” a song about finding an order of Mennonites whilst on a writing retreat in Tennessee, and the conflicting desire to stay there with the farming and traditions. Her heavier, beautiful material was also counterpointed by bouncier, sweeter, jazzier fare like “Never You Mind” and Ries’ self-deprecating banter, putting down her ability to flirt and confessing to past crushes, winning over the room.

Ries also made reference to her band and touring with them, occasionally wishing for their extra harmonies, drums and keys. In playing a brand new song, she wished for a piano in the room, but transposed the ballad elegantly to a guitar. Ries’ latest effort, Ghost of a Gardener will be coming out in February, and then she should be swinging back through the Twin Cities with her self-described “frock rock,” so stay tuned. The performing world should welcome back the voice of Rachel Ries.

“For You Only” – Rachel Ries at the Cake Shop from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

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