For our Track by Track feature, artists open up about the stories behind each song on their latest album. Today, Erin Rae takes us track by track through her new album, Lighten Up.
After releasing her debut effort, Putting on Airs, in 2018, Erin Rae was living as the troubadours do. She spent the years between that release and the start of the pandemic on the road and, like any other artist, found that life come to a screeching halt.
On Friday, February 4th, she’ll return with her new album, Lighten Up, an appropriate title both for our times and for the album. This latest collection is an amalgam of dreamy, psychedelic country, indie-rock, and believably vintage folk. Thematically, too, the album is a bit like an old kaleidoscope — social commentary and musings on gender equality morph into more personal stories of self-acceptance, recovering from heartbreak, and optimism for an unknown future.
“I love connecting my inner world with the outer experience in my songwriting,” Rae tells Consequence. “I think it helps me feel a real sense of belonging in this world.”
Rae has broken down the album in our latest Track by Track interview. You can also stream the LP one day early, and get an exclusive first look at the video for “Can’t See Stars” featuring Kevin Morby, below.
“Candy + Curry”
This song is a journal entry, essentially. It’s a meditation on the early days in the pandemic, where here in Tennessee, it felt more or less like a global snow day. It was no doubt inspired by the music of Andre Ethier and Nashville’s own Good Buddy — very subtly driving along, but still grooving.
This one was one of the most exciting songs to bring to life at Jonathan’s place with his endless weird keyboards and the insane siren guitar pedal he played on it. To me, it’s one of the most exciting sonic explorations in the songs on this record, which is why we wanted it to be track one. Kind of a surprise, maybe!
“Can’t See Stars” feat. Kevin Morby
I love connecting my inner world with the outer experience in my songwriting. I think it helps me feel a real sense of belonging in this world to draw those parallels, and in “Can’t See Stars,” the parallel most specifically is to being completely overwhelmed with constant distraction with social media, news, television and the sky being polluted with light from all our human stuff. Both make it hard to follow the north star; the symbolic one inside, and the literal star.
It’s hard to pull away from all the excitement, but I found such a relief in being out in the country a little ways visiting some family, and having some time to return to myself and my thoughts, as well as seeing the night sky so much clearer.
“True Love’s Face”
Sometimes it’s best to just say things exactly like you mean them, and I think this song sort of spilled out of me when I was feeling particularly hopeful about my love life — ha, ha. It’s earnest, like any true search for connection is on some level, and it’s really fun to play. Recording this song was when I felt like we started to loosen up and have fun, and it became one of my absolute favorites.
“Gonna Be Strange”
“Gonna Be Strange” is about that fear that comes with trying to follow your inner compass. I’ve heard it said that with every decision comes a little grief for the path that wasn’t chosen. This song is speaking to that step into the unknown, towards the discovery of what feels right to me, and the heartache that comes with that.
Energetically, this whole record is about this step in my life, being uncomfortable, but feeling like life is so much more expansive and wanting to explore it with an open heart.