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Rachel Goswell – Waves are Universal

I’ll be the first to admit that most female singers and songwriters drive me nuts because there’s just something about overtly female vocalists that makes it hard to sit through an entire album. For some innate reason, I just would rather listen to a guy sing, which is why I kept imagining I was going to be reviewing a Jewel-ish CD and hating every second of it. Yet Rachel Groswell manages to craft a gentle, candid, and easy-listening record of stories and snippets on her debut solo record, Waves are Universal.


As a former member of bands such as Slowdive and Mojave 3, Rachel has departed to her own land of the breathy and blithe. Lazy and free, passive and clear, and full of variations on a theme, this record imparts many different stylings to the careful listener.

This record contains a breakfast omelet assortment of instrumentation. Songs like “Warm Summer Sun” make use of some Scottish bagpipes while tracks like “Deelay” are simplified with some slapping around of the bongo drums. All of the tracks embody a honeyed, feminine aspect and I specifically see more than half the album as a soundtrack for “Dawson’s Creek,” or some movie with John Cusack. “Coastline” has a more dramatic sound with whirling guitars and backing vocals. This is where I would like to hear Ms. Groswell blow and bellow and take a break from the scintillating siren crap. Which isn’t necessarily bad but I am ever the fan of transmutation. Mix it up and let me hear you sang!

While Rachel could stand to put a little more driftwood on the fire, her damsel voice does well for what she intends, and her album is pretty un-annoying for a female solo effort. The music is great, but lacks that certain spark that grabs you and aurally handcuffs you to the bed of sound. Then again, I might just be biased against the women singers. I can’t help it! If you like girl singers with a gentle and passive sound like Sarah McLaughlin or Linda Perhacs, then this is the record for you!


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