Friday, Oct. 1 Rachael Yamagata at Birdy’s Friday. “Do you want to hear a song about cheating or a song about being depressed?” Rachael Yamagata asked the crowd. When a random man answered, “We don’t want to be depressed,” Yamagata was quick to call bullshit on the statement. “If you didn’t want to be depressed, you wouldn’t have come here.”
Although there is a cathartic, possibly even masochistic interest in absorbing her songs, there is an almost Portishead quality about how you decipher it. By which I mean depending on if you’re in love or if you’ve recently gone through a bad break-up, Rachael Yamagata’s breathy, chain-smoking intonation and swollen melodies inspire you to either fuck or cry, all night.
“I wrote this song after/before I was over the pain and heartbreak of being dumped by an asshole.” Yamagata set the feel for the rest of the evening with this simple statement. Although her songs read like open wounds, she somehow manages to forego the aggrandized archetypal female condition in the face of heartbreak and replace it with an overt maturity. Not an easy task, yet seamlessly captured in her lyrics and voice as rich, as chocolate and textured as a couple packs a day can form. Listening to her is like observing a broken heart succeeding in making sense of itself.
Yamagata maintains a balance of fantastic control and raw power while never leaving out the warmth and self-deprecation that makes her so relatable to anyone who has ever been disappointed by a lover or their own expectations.