Published May 28, 2019Metamorphosis is nothing new for Rachel Ries; she shifted from releasing music under her own name to current moniker Her Crooked Heart in 2017. Ries pulls emotion from the spaces surrounding love. and on To Love to Leave to Live, she mines post-divorce territory with cyclical narratives and haunting melodies.
Loving, leaving and living are rarely three distinct actions. This is a clear through-line between the interwoven emotional poles that Ries explores. "Courthouse" concretely deals with her divorce by unspooling instrumental melodies; as an answer to self-imposed questions, Ries declares, "I'm just a lady taking back her name." On "Loving You," she puts forth an outline: "Think I'm ready to love someone new, but before I do I want to catalogue the truth of what it was like loving you." The accompanying similes are reflective and reveal the complexities of an imperfect relationship.
The musical sense throughout is shifting and elusive. "Pleasant Valley Reservoir" captures the certainty in pursuing uncertainty, with orchestral swings and vocal swells. "Windswept" rolls in like a thunder storm, then breaks open for a peek of yellow sun. And though Ries's Mitchell-esque vocal swoops develop unity, she dabbles in genre with the bass-groove jam of "Are You Good You Are" and the Americana twang of "For a Song," which finds stability in a love of music.
If life always moved in the directions we expected it to, where would the excitement be? Exploring the bold and brave choices made in her own life, Her Crooked Heart parallels a strong sense of choice making on To Love to Leave to Live. (Independent)