What does Gracie and Rachel sound like?
Symphonic-infused indie pop.
The review of Gracie and Rachel – Nowhere Now Here
Originally starting off a merger of pianist and vocalist Gracie and violinist Rachel a decade ago to create some arresting piano-pop, Gracie and Rachel return with an evolved sound. Think Sylvan Esso meets Dido, if Dido was tonally a little darker than she is. The key with ‘Nowhere Now Here’ is the evolution from dramatic piano-pop to something more symphonic. Here the strings and keyboards are richer, denser and more refined. Dare I say sophitipop?
Opening the 6 track EP is ‘Possible’, a scene-setting introduction just over a minute long that cues up all the main elements of this release. We have smooth vocals from Gracie, carefully layered to sound both fragile and soothing. We have meaty strings recorded in a way that feels nostalgic and timeless. Lastly, we have a cinematic synth bass that could have been pulled from a sci-fi movie. All that’s missing are the beats but they come with the superbly exotic ‘No Reservations’. Here, the slow-mid tempo drum loops are spacious and varied, adding a tiny Latin flavour. The strings are majestic and evoke a Middle-Eastern flair at times. Add in some catchy vocal call and responses and a little bossa nova keyboard action dressed in 2023 kit and you have an unusual but superb track. ‘Middle Ground’ channels electric piano and 60’s cinematic string production over a warm and lazy beat. Whilst it is warm, there is gravitas and drama as tom drums crash in cinematically as the vocals rise in the latter third. It’s quintessential Gracie and Rachel and an indie-pop gem.
‘Call Away’ is an interesting track when you consider the background for the EP. Gracie and Rachel had lived together to work on music for nearly a decade in Brooklyn before Gracie moved to upstate New York. The duo said that it has enabled them to both become fuller versions of themselves and I think that is what lyrically this affirmation-filled track is about. “I’m just a call away” is almost like they’re providing a safety net to each other. ‘Selfish’ is a track that personifies artistic restraint. There is a thumpa-thumpa that’s about to take off at times that never does and instead, the track devolves into a yearning string outro. The EP is full of decisions like this and the warm, full production isn’t down to hundreds of layers of sound. Instead, it is about unified clarity on a few sounds, brought into full life. This is also showcased in the dissonance of ‘Our Last Night’. Between swaying soft piano and room sound, an off-key warped vocal motif echoes out, followed by a violin interpretation for it. Each instrument has room to breathe and command the space and so when elements combine, it doesn’t have to be overwrought. Simplicity is key for Gracie and Rachel, so long as it delivers the message directly to the listener.
Pivoting to more sophisticated string arrangements and electronic elements has really worked. Whilst they may have put distance between themselves, Gracie and Rachel sound as unified as ever. The vocal harmonies are gorgeous. Tonally, the music is rich, deep and engrossing. It’s full of catchy motifs without drawing your attention to them. The duo have been creating excellent top-tier indie pop for a decade now and this EP is no exception. The perfect soundtrack for emotional chillaxing.
Recommended track: Middle Ground
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