Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
We found out about Rachele Eve Guastella by way of Cass McCombs, whom she was working for as an assistant tour manager/organizer at the time of the brilliant songwriter's visit to the Horseshack last summer. A few days after his time here - which included a show that evening with Dent May also on the bill - McCombs was playing a Sunday night gig in Chicago, the city he was calling home at the time, with Rachele Eve opening the festivities. We asked about her and then listened to her music and determined that there was a lot to her - that she wasn't destined to only be an assistant tour manager to another artist. No, sir, she was something on her own. Rachele Eve - the first and middle names are the ones she goes with for the stage -- has gone ahead and used a "sign" or some inspiration culled from a past experience at Burning Man - in the crazy Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, with a bunch of crazies - to finger her music as "desert rock," and it's surprisingly apt as descriptions go. There's a strong flow of the same kind of feeling you get if the invasive act of inhaling and being covered in a fresh or stale incense smell, the slow burning of an incense stick, were an actual feeling that could take you over. There's nothing hippie or peace, love and dope about the sound, just a general sensation of feeling that the sun's in control of everything, seeing some wobbly horizon lines off into the distance and occasionally hearing the hunger cry of a swooping vulture buzzing some prey with a warning poke of the beak. Rachele Eve's voice is conditioned to sound like it's always going to be there for you - a generous amount of huskiness and cream - ready to wrap you up in its arms if that's what you're needing. "Bona Fide," an unreleased song recorded here is a song that pulls together all of the songwriter's finest instincts and talents, creating a song that could be mistaken as a Nashvillian misfit, something that might have been misplaced from the "Van Occupanther" sessions had Midlake pulled the trick Weezer pulled during its "Pinkerton" days and had Rachel Haden sing lead vocals on a b-side as well as a song featuring her slightly dark, but poetic lyricism. It's a song about the day that one of her good friend's father was laid to rest - a reminiscence about the kind of late morning/afternoon it was and how everyone was handling the dark blue sky and the tufts of lazy clouds. She sings, "I've been growing black roses/I've been growing black/In fear that I might bloom/Into a gated fortress/Into a gated fortress/Filled with petty doom/And like a vine/I'm just fine/Tangling myself in knots/You'll escape/From my grasp/But me myself won't last another day/Cause he's the darling I'm the wretch," and the final line slips out at you like a child getting pushed gaily on a swing set. It's a glimpse of something sweeter in the face of something dispiriting and devastating. It's disruptive and entirely welcome and Rachele Eve mines these moments keenly from one to the next.