“Pith-rock” singer/songwriter Rachel Taylor Brown displays a wonderful gift on her seventh LP, World So Sweet. From poignant ballads to pop melodies to eerie chants (and everything in between), almost every song features a different style and emotion. Best of all, Taylor experiments freely, allowing the unexpected to penetrate standard structures. It’s truly a remarkable release.
Brown was born in Portland, OR and began playing piano at age six. She has sung in several classical ensembles, as well as played with rock outfits the Sort Ofs and the Fear of Heights. Of her music, Brown says, “I always feel better when dark things are out in the open instead of hidden away. Looking at the scary stuff makes me more appreciative of the beauty in the world…” Indeed, the thirteen eclectic and diverse tracks on World So Sweet make for a catchy, sentimental, touching, ominous, stirring, and addicting experience.
“Intro [Sweetness On Earth]” is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself. 50+ people arrived at showroom to simultaneously play 50+ and sing. The result is a thunderous flurry of chords following a choir chanting the title. It’s simple but powerful, and it definitely sets a distinctive mood. “Sister Jean” is an exciting pop ballad that, with its horns and harmonies, feels like Tori Amos is performing a lost Beatles track. “Taxidermy” continues the Beatles vibe as it complements a rhythm similar to “I Am the Walrus” with nightmarish jazz. It’s as if Brown was performing at a nightclub in a David Lynch film.
Haunting simplicity allows “Anemone” to arrest its listener effortlessly, and Brown pours her heart out gloriously on “Scotland,” demonstrating how fantastic her voice is. An inarguable highlight of World So Sweet, “How to Make a World Class Gymnast” surrounds its repetitious melody and piano riff in a sea of spoken words. Likely inspired by Simon & Garfunkel gems like “Voices of Old People” and “7 O’clock News/Silent Night,” the track is chilling, beautiful, and brilliant. “Didymus the Twin…” possesses exquisitely hypnotic lyricism and arrangement, and album closer “Joe/The Sacred Remains” brings the choir back for some sublime, subtle, and prophetic majesty. As for the other half a dozen or so tracks, well, they’re also astonishing.
World So Sweet is an album that everyone should own and treasure. Brown elevates herself above many of her contemporary female pianist singer/songwriters because of her unique songwriting, voice, experimentation, and exceptional production. She is a visionary and a true artist, and her seventh LP an elating breath of fresh air.