Sara Rachele describes her music as, “Like somebody dropped Emmylou Harris down a well, and she’s mad about it,” but otherwise she’s difficult to pin down.
“I’m at a place where I’m ignoring what’s happening in the industry because I don’t think anybody knows,” she says.
Her latest project is an album, April Fool, recorded in Nashville with guitarist Johnny Duke.
“I wasn’t even really trying to go into it with the idea to make an album,” she says. “It’s such a huge stressful thing.”
“I’ve been restoring this old Airstream, and it doesn’t need three steering wheels and 15 sets of brakes. It needs a couple things that become components of this piece of work,” Rachele says. “Albums are a lot like vehicles; there’s components that if you took them away it wouldn’t make sense. Not everything is a complex idea.”
April Fool is more of a folk-country album, suiting the backgrounds of the contributors: Duke has played guitar with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Miranda Lambert and Lee Ann Womack. Rachele credits Bob Dylan as her favorite songwriter, and she even has a dog named Hank Williams Sr.
“This really fantastic writer named John Lilly from West Virginia wrote the title track ‘April Fool’—a really talented guy—and I met him across a campfire,” she says. “I heard the song, and that’s really where the record gained cohesion. I said I really want to do something like that.”
Next, though, she’s going in a different direction.
“I recorded some things in New York; I went into this tape studio and got to work with some beautiful people who are just honkin’ soul and jazz guys. It’s really cool to bring what I do and let those guys take it to a totally different place. I’m excited to get those tunes out.”
And this time it won’t be another album. Continuing her former metaphor, “Sometimes it’s nice to just have an A and a B side. It’s just a motorcycle, not an RV. I love music that was made to be short form. I like songs that don’t necessarily sit on a full-length album.”
She appreciates the flexibility to switch influences and structures. While some musicians are fighting against the chaos in the music industry, she embraces it.
“I have a family member who always tells me to never miss the opportunity in a good crisis,” Rachele says. “Yeah, we’re not making quarter million dollar albums anymore, but that’s okay. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to sustain that, there’s a lot of opportunity. Things have gotten easier in a lot of ways if all you want to do is create recordings.”
And that’s all she wants to do: “I sell songs to support my recording habit,” she says.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.