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Man Knows Toil, But a Woman Knows Pain

Rachael Yamagata
Turner Hall
Milwaukee, WI
Mar. 24, 2009
Rachael Yamagata Rachael Yamagata Rachael Yamagata

Story and photos by Gypsy Davey

Disguised behind delicately silken vocals and dimly lit stage this beautiful malady known as Rachael Yamagata writhed out her collection of melancholy to a packed Turner Hall on a very fitting rainy night in Milwaukee. On a stage softened with blossoms and mic stands influenced with floweret adornments, Rachael - through soft grace - moved us with her moonless messages and hopeless gloom. The sound resonated, imprisoned within the walls of Turner, as well as our heads. The true magic behind her melancholy lyric is the consulate tinge of inspiration that melodically buttresses against it, leaving expectations and shreds of faith to hang on to, but just when you think that the sun is going to break though the clouds, another song starts, and we get to relive it all over.

Early in the evening - through a slip of the tongue - Rachael dropped the F-bomb. One could debate whether a vulgarity from such a beautifully soft and gentle voice could be considered profane, but I digress...the point of it all is in how she made amends. Noticing - as soon as the expletive left her mouth - two pre-adolescent girls seated front row, swallowed up in one of several bean bag chairs, Rachael apologized. Instructing them never to say that word, then telling them "they have a whole life ahead of them," as if those words of guidance are enough to encourage them though life's trials they'll soon greet. Carrying out her expression of regret one-step further, she tossed the two a couple of plush animals - pulled from the elaborate stage decorations. Then - alone behind her keyboard - she tilled up the Happenstance cut "Meet Me By The Water", and later re-accompanied with full band, she colored in the spirited "Letter Read," with darkly painted jazzy beats that conjure up the ethereal beauty of Fiona Apple during the verses, and harkens back to the girlish quirkiness of Edie Brickell fleshing out the vocals during the chorus.

What blew the roof off of the joint however, were two gorgeously faithful renditions from her latest release Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart, in "Sidedish Friend" and "Sunday Afternoon," the later easily being one of the night's finest moments, highlighting the astounding lead guitar work from Kevin Devine, with mind-blowing cathedral reverberation to his tone, and with his back to the crowd, borrowing a word from Rachael - he F-ing nailed it!

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