By Nicholas Coyne
To cap off Erin Rae’s time as TIDAL’s Rising Artist of the Week, Rae took some time to talk to TIDAL about her newest record, Putting on Airs, and all that has arrived with her evolved songwriting.
Also, take a listen to Erin’s TIDAL-exclusive playlist of her current favorite female country artists below.
How do you feel your songwriting has progressed from your previous record to this one?
The main thing for this record is that is definitely directly influenced from my personal perspective and experience. I was, along the way, trying to address some things within myself. It was taking in other people’s experiences and that shifted me, musically, and I knew I wanted to expand. A lot of the music we were working with before was traditional guitar, guitar, backing vocal, pedal steel, drum, and bass. I was working with a classic songwriting, but I knew I wanted to explore new areas of writing. Getting to know Dan Knobler and Jerry Bernhardt and understanding their musical perspective on production was really exciting to dig into.
Were there any moments in the recording process where their perspective on the feel of the record really came in handy?
I think most of the experience was that way, finding out that they were hearing something different. Working with Jerry really changed how I listen to music. You go through these phases where you listen to the same thing for a long time and it feels stale. I saw this hyper awareness on moving around some of the patterns we ran into. Jerry brought a bunch of analog gear from his studio in Nashville to Wisconsin and set up there. He worked from 11 to 11, so the work ethic and the attention to detail and knowing what he was trying to capture. It was a fruitful, learning environment.
Is there a unifying thread with all of the music on the thread, as it relates to what you wanted the record to speak to?
Yeah, I think it was my attitude towards relationship and behavior, in general. Some of the music was from my personal relationships and sometimes it was my inquisition of why these things happen in these relationships. For me, I explored the patterns of relationships and being torn, whether it is a behavioral cycle or a substance, and how those influences ruin relationships. There was a definitely a balance of expectations against reality.
Nashville is a city of knowing names and places and these kind of signifiers of people’s evolution and rise. With all the people you’ve worked with, like Margo Price and John Paul White of the Civil Wars, how does it feel to be steadily growing your profile and your list of collaborators in a city of like-minded individuals?
I think those feelings and progress resonate with some of the subject matter of the record. I think sharing those thoughts were important, so I didn’t think it would be uncomfortable to share my story with people. It’s definitely something I feel pretty well because music is such a big part of the lives of the people I know here and my group of friends. I’ve felt incredibly grateful for all of the support over the past four to five years. Just the past year, a group of helpful people have sprung up organically and it’s felt great.
What does a finished song sound like to you?
The idea is not realized by having a certain structure. As long as the idea feels complete, it feels good to me. Whatever emotion or information I am trying to communicate has a center and as long as that is there, I’m happy. I think it feels better if it’s an idea communicated in an unconventional manner.