Look up ‘evangelical’ in the dictionary and you will find that one of the definitions is “marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause.” It’s why anyone who too fervently takes a stand on an issue can quickly wear away at your patience, no matter how noble the cause. It is also the reason why evangelical seems to be the best word to describe Rachael Brady’s second album Somewhere Sunshine. While her affections do not necessarily lie with Christian beliefs, they can be annoyingly zealous to a fault.
There’s no question that this is a sweet and clearly heartfelt effort from a self-made performer. A fiercely independent Brisbane native and mother of three, Brady would sing the kind of lullaby dreams are made of. Her voice is rich and sultry, like a clarinet come to life. In the classic combination of singer-songwriter, however, there is an equally valuable second component and it is here that Brady falls short. In a genre over-populated by just about anyone who can pick up a guitar, successful singer-songwriters need to possess a unique voice, clever lyrics, or serious musical chops. Brady’s voice is indeed a pleasure to listen to and the music is well produced, but there’s little else to distinguish her from the countless other artists diligently writing similar material. Much of the album maintains the same time signature and tempo, and her lyrics, often too saccharine and self-aggrandising, may prove to be too grating for some.
Distributing the album online and relying almost completely on the power of the web to market her, Brady, along with co-lyricist/collaborator Nigel Kerr, is slowly gaining recognition. A brief look at her Myspace page proudly confirms that the lack of a record deal is a personal choice; however, no further information or explanation is given. This lack of a worded ideology is a common factor, not only online but on the album as well. This presents a problem when, according to Brady herself, “song(s) about the troubles in the world” are her bread and butter. As a result, rather than provoke meaningful discussion, listeners are left to ponder what the ambiguously worded issues are exactly.
Opening track ‘Am I Disturbing Your Sleep’ is rather blatantly asking if she is waking you up, the implication being that with words as sharp as arrows she will pierce through your defenses and force you to look at the many issues she rallies for throughout the album. The reality is that her attempts to sway come across more like Lassie barking for your attention. Sure, Timmy is down the well and it definitely is important, but her words are no more well equipped to make you act than the dog’s, unless you already speak the language. You know something is going on but whether it’s a dire matter or a request for a new chew toy is hard to say.
[Motherwort Music; January 15, 2009]