Rachael Sage’s deep blue left eye stares at me from the back cover of her fifth album, Public Record. As I listen to the poetically rockin’ soul-searcher “What If,” the first track on the album, I feel that the eye manifests Sage’s physical presence in the room. I can’t tear away, and out of some strange discomfort feel compelled to flip the jewel case over – but not before I catch of a glimpse of the galaxies within that painted and jeweled eye.
As Public Record continues, so does Sage’s intimate self-disclosure. All fourteen songs, which ambitiously explore issues of love, acceptance, and identity through a lush palette of pop, folk, and jazz, are written in the first person. Her words have a private feel that insists that she writes not from an assumed persona but from her own life.
“You say that you find me ‘intoxicating’…what dare I ask does that word really mean? / Could I be someone who you would rely on – or am I just someone you’ll always run from?” she asks in “Of Blue.”
Sage’s music is as vivid as her lyricism. The album features no less than sixteen additional musicians, who play drums, saxophone, cello, trumpet, guitar, bass, percussion, organ, harmonica, tambourine, viola, violin, and flugelhorn. She constructs moving and cohesive songs, skillfully calling upon her guest musicians to fill in and flavor her work. But her deft fingers on the piano keys drive most of the songs.
The last track on the album, “Frost,” is fittingly sparse, featuring only delicate violin, piano, and percussion while Sage’s whispered voice sweeps the foreground of the song. Its understated force lingers long after the album falls to silence. If Sage’s eye was the window to her soul, then her music, as the title Public Record suggests, has been an open door.