Sara Rachele is at her best when she confronts difficult themes. Her 2015 song “Rebecca” is a heart-crushing recounting of having an abortion and its latent after-effects. 2020’s Scorpio Sun, the follow-up to her 2019 release Scorpio Moon, is as uncompromising in its honesty as it is uplifting in its search for beauty. “For this album,” Rachele explains, “I'm trying to strip my music back and be who I am, where I am, right now: a person who's been really run around and had to retreat from a lot of different situations, who is trying to fix things, trying to fix myself.”
In the aftermath of the Scorpio Moon production, a tightly-constructed affair with a full band and several production issues, Rachele (pronounced “ra-kelly”) found herself returning to the songs that didn’t make the cut. “I was trying to write through some personal issues that had been going on, and I also wanted to see which songs could stand up by themselves. I wanted to know which of these songs could be vulnerable and not feel like trauma porn or what have you.” This album’s title is inspired from Rachele’s realization that most of the people around her as she worked on Scorpio Moon, including her ex-boyfriend, were Scorpio sun signs.
Where Scorpio Moon was a complex, atmospheric collection of jazz and pop-influenced songs, Scorpio Sun is a complete about-face. Recorded with Rachele’s long-time collaborator Spencer Garn, this new LP is a more stripped-down affair: just Rachele’s haunting voice, hypnotic guitars, and captivating lyrics bolstered by Rachele’s recent work ethic (a low-residency MFA in poetry at New York University).
While Rachele generally keeps her poetry and lyrics separate, the pensive and hypnotic “Squirrel Song” is the first of her poems that she’s translated into music. Once Rachele added a chorus, she was off to the races. On “Still Alive,” we see the contrast in Rachele’s poetry and lyrics. The bare-bones ballad is a stark and plaintive response to heartbreak. “I left Georgia and my partner had just moved out of my house and taken a bunch of my shit, including my music. I wondered, what's beyond that? When things end, whether it's with a person or a drug or whatever, what happens after that?”
“Terry Richardson,” on the other hand, finds Rachele at her most courageous and powerful. Her life and MFA program brought her to trips in Paris, where Rachele confronted a vibrant independent art scene. When comparing these artists to her friends in L.A. who lived through the high times of music celebrity culture in the 80s and 90s, Rachele found herself wondering where the inspiration for true art comes from and why it can sometimes dissipate. When reflecting upon abuse by those in power across the entertainment industry, Rachele muses about the line between what allows a person to pursue their genius and what makes them toxic. Richardson, for example, “made a lot of amazing art and has done a lot of fucked up shit.”
Rachele further explores entertainment industry abuse on “Hollywood,” a moody exploration of the territory between rock’n’roll and country twang. “This industry is pretty vain,” muses Rachele. The song recounts Rachele’s relocations from L.A. to New York to Nashville. “It’s about the destruction of traditional music and distribution platforms. I mean, so much is different now and visual media is hip, but good art work is the great equalizer across platforms.”
Scorpio Sun proves that Rachele is a survivor who will create on her terms -- no matter what. She’s taking her record label, Angrygal, to the next level in 2020, having recently purchased an abandoned church outside of Nashville in Granville, TN. Inspired by Ani DiFranco’s Babeville in Buffalo, Rachele plans to use the church as the label’s headquarters, expanding its roster, and providing a recording and event space for her fellow artists and community.
Rachele grew up a studio rat and folk child. Working for free, cleaning out the cupboards at famed Atlanta acoustic hotspot Eddie’s Attic, she met countless musicians and writers, and fell into bands as a side player before she’d even written a song of her own. She released her debut LP, Diamond Street, in 2014, and followed with a swoony 7-inch cover of Cracker’s “Low.” The latter was dubbed ‘sublime’ by SPIN magazine, and began to chart on commercial radio. Rachele’s 2016 sophomore LP, Motel Fire—recorded with her repurposed punk band The Skintights—was imagined in Joshua Tree, Calif., with help from pedal steel player Chris Unck (Butch Walker, Lisa Loeb). Rachele then released April Fool in 2017. Dedicated to her late grandmother, the album is a collection of bluegrass and folk songs Rachele cut in East Nashville with guitarist Johnny Duke (Little Big Town, Mary Chapin Carpenter). She recorded her 2019 LP, Scorpio Moon with Binky Griptite and other members of Amy Winehouse & Sharon Jones’ former backing band The Dap-Kings for all of the full live band recordings to 2” Tape. Bust magazine wrote, “Rachele’s angelic voice channels Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton, and she has a gift for telling tales of hope and disappointment in classic troubadour fashion.”