Rachel Flowers 2021
Running for a hat-trick, American prog polymath enters Tardis to manipulate time and space.
Lately, this lady has become an art-rock darling, yet while Rachel Flowers is in demand as a piano player and singer, coloring other people’s pieces with character – thanks to the particular vision the blind artiste, who sees much more than the sighted ones, is possessed of – it’s on her own records that she not only fully inhabits various wonderworlds but also creates such headspaces in the first place. The Californian multi-instrumentalist’s third album must be the best example of her personal cosmos, the platter’s title suggesting unique properties of the numbers within – the emotional cuts which are profoundly deep, often painful and defiantly optimistic. So if there’s a lot of pining here, Rachel’s ultimate line is “I have love, I have life, I have music”: the statement Flowers formulated to turn the stormy rumble of “This Is The Way I Am” from could pass for an excuse into what should feel like organ-oiled swagger – despite her admitting to being extremely shy.
Not that there’s anything sonically demure about the record’s wordless opener “A B” in which funky spank and sharp riffs swirl around the empuzzled listener’s head until guitars pause their assault and, baring the platter’s immense dynamic scope, let fusion ivories embroider the piece’s façade with enchanting nuance, before the streamlined flow is resumed. It’s taking the focus towards the orchestral sweep of “Take Me Away” – the album’s first epic – where Rachel’s delicate vocals flutter across the strings and brass in search of electric fantasy and bounce graciously once the mirage has been captured and a Hammond delirium unleashed. However, whereas another melodic tapestries, “The Darkness” and “Feel” – the former a tremulous symphony edging to a power metal jive, the latter leading Flowers’ voice to the spectral spectrum so full of prog panache and jazz detail as to become tangible in the end – will offer a nice contrast of moods, the translucent “Love Today” pretends to be a pop ditty possessed of soaring spirit, the piano-led “Too Much” opts for hypnotic and harmonic, yet increasingly hefty, drift and echoing refrain.
But if the resulting image seems too sophisticated, the sensual balladry of “Beautiful Dream” is as simple in its outpouring of the singer’s heart-truths as only a recital can get, and the folk-informed, soulful “With You” is as triumphant as an album finale can require from the musician of this caliber. With a little more brightness in her world, Rachel Flowers is bound to reach the end of the rainbow soon enough.