Rain Perry's A WHITE ALBUM | Lee Zimmerman, The Alternate Root
Over the course of five previous albums, Rain Perry has established herself as an essential singer/songwriter, one with an affection for Americana but whose broad tastes also encompass Pop, protest music and a sound that breaches boundaries whenever her muse dictates the need to do so. Having established her own outlet for the release of her records — a label ironically dubbed Precipitous Records — she’s never failed to maintain a standard of consistent quality. Longtime producer Mark Hallman continues to oversee her efforts, and given their back and forth over the years (including a documentary Perry produced about his craft and career), it’s clear they’ve procured a near-perfect partnership with every endeavor.
Naturally then, Hallman is behind the boards once again for A White Album, a nine-song set that boldly attempts to deal with what it means to be a white person in modern America. From the billowy opener, “Melody & Jack”, an unabashed love song detailing the romance of an integrated couple, to “The Money”, a decisive denunciation of a financial system purposely weighted against minority borrowers, Rain Perry pursues her muse with fearless intent. When she underscores the prescient Mann/Weill/Russell anthem “None of Us Are Free” with its sturdy undertow, it’s clear she’s committed to taking the song’s message about social equality to a higher plateau. The same can be said of her own “What’s Wrong with You”, a stern statement about the need to forego apathy and detachment when lives are on the line.
At the same time, Perry also knows that subtlety can be a strength, and a medley which bridges her own “Yarddogs”, a co-write with Hallman, and the vintage Folk anthem “Morning Dew”, she demonstrates a supple skillset that effectively tempers the music with a quiet caress. “Indian Hill, Ohio”, “Lady of the Harbor”, the Stevie Wonder composition “Visions”, and the compelling closer “This Is Water”, fully add to the embrace, proving yet again that when it comes to sharing meaningful melodies, Rain again reigns supreme.
Ultimately, A White Album ranks as one of Rain Perry’s most emphatic efforts to date, a clear demonstration of a skillset that deserves wider recognition. With a guest cast that includes Ben Lee, Akina Adderley, Betty Soo, and Wilco’s Mikael Jorgensen, she’s made an album that resonates at a time when racial equality is still a distant dream. A White Album likely won’t remedy that situation, but hopefully it will enlighten and inspire those committed to bringing it well within reach. (By Lee Zimmerman)
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