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Rachael Sage - Blue Roses; “New Destination” EP (MPress)

Rachael Sage - Blue Roses
3 December 2014

NYC songstress and Mpress label head Sage follows her exquisite 2012 tenth LP Haunted By You with an even more accomplished, immaculately-crafted eleventh. Haunted recounted the end of a four-year romance, and Blue finds an optimistic, reflective Sage still navigating choppy relationship waters. She ponders sticking with a mismatched mate on the bluesy, rollicking “English Tea,” chastises herself for not anticipating another non-committal partner on the waltz-like, Theremin-laced “Wax,” and reminisces about a former flame on the melancholy “Misery’s Grace.” Sage’s resonant, alluring piano and breathy, quivering voice is again accentuated by her skillful backing band The Sequins, notably violinist Kelly Halloran and cellist Ward Williams. A swooning, soaring cover of Neil Young/CSN&Y’s “Helpless” (from 1970’s Déjà vu) with powerful-piped septuagenarian Judy Collins (the subject of the “S” in CS&N’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes!” – ed.) ends the album on a breathtaking high note.

For hesitant toe-dippers, the EP repeats three strong Blue songs: “Wax,” “Misery’s Grace,” and “Not Leaving You.” But it’s still a worthy pick-up for album owners, thanks to the non-LP “New Destination.” It’s a vivacious, handsomely-produced pop song that extols the virtues of breaking free of self-imposed habits. (