There is something deep and mysterious at work here in this simple-sounding mid-tempo rocker, and the depth and mystery is rooted in the by now strange and wonderful fact that “When the Rain Comes” was recorded live, on analog equipment, in one take. There is nothing whatever wrong with all the technology being employed in the 21st century to make music but someone has to make it clear that what can be done with our digital tools are many different and potentially enjoyable things but one thing they cannot do, can never do, is what Katie Von Schleicher and friends do here. She and her band of living, breathing, flesh and blood human beings are singing and playing in a room together. Nothing replaces the fire of that. Even when a song unfolds in a kind of a lazy way, even when a song’s coolest hook are a bunch of “la-la-la”s, there is fire here, a fire lit by the inexplicable things that happen when human bodies and souls and voices share time and space together, and when the tools are in the service of capturing the shared effort, not manipulating it.
“When the Rain Comes” is the lead track from Silent Days, a seven-song mini-album recorded at the Soul Shop, an all-analog studio in Medford, Mass. built in 2007 into a 160-year-old barn that had previously housed a piano restoration shop. According to the studio’s web site, “We strive for a clean, open, live sound that truly captures the experience of musicians moving air within a room.” Exactly so. Listen to the vocals—both Von Schleicher’s offhanded lead and the unexpected grandeur of the harmonies in the long-delayed chorus (3:12)—and feel the concrete sense of depth and breadth (and breath) that saturates the recording. And then, best of all, the guitars: both Will Graefe and Gabriel Birnbaum, members of the band Wilder Maker along with Von Schleicher herself, are listed as guitarists here so I don’t know who’s who but I love the kind of guitar sound you hear squirting briefly to the forefront at, say, 0:49 or 0:58—a sound both muted and ringing, a melodious sound that carries within it the flavor of dissonance. A deft, off-kilter solo emerges at 1:50 (Graefe in this case), with the air of notes being decided upon moment to moment, which may almost be true—in addition to the songs being recorded live and in one take, the entire album was recorded in just a few days, without any demos, any pre-written arrangements, any rehearsals. This is hardly a formula that guarantees success but in this case, the gods were smiling. Fine stuff.
Von Schleicher is a singer/songwriter based both in Boston and Brooklyn. Before Wilder Maker she was in the band Sleepy Very Sleepy. I thank her directly for the MP3. You can hear the whole album as well as purchase it via Bandcamp.
photo credit: Dianne Lowry de Ortega