Rain Perry – A White Album
Hollywood-born Rain Perry has a beautiful tone to her voice. Right from the start on “Melody & Jack,” her voice has a warm, sincere Judee Sill (“The Kiss,” “Jesus Was a Crossmaker”) demeanor. The song’s about an interracial crush but never sounds as controversial as Janis Ian’s 1965 hit “Society’s Child.”
A White Album (Drops April 15–Precipitous Records) is her 5th & touches upon social & humanistic challenges in modern America. There are 7 originals & 2 covers. You may agree, or not with some songs but Ms. Perry’s work is well-formed. A cleanly recorded showcase that at times address some pointy issues. I usually steer away from agreeing/disagreeing with an artist on song subjects — it’s the music that’s important.
“The Money,” is sung excellently but the sudden drop into rap diminishes the power. It sounds slightly contrived. Many artists make this tactical error when they believe doing it will give the song street cred. It doesn’t. People who need to hear the message may not like rap. Know the audience.
“Yarddogs/Morning Dew,” is elegant & joins 2 melodies. It works well, is inventive & has a strong message. Rain’s repertoire shadows respectfully many who came before – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger.
Barry Mann-Brenda Russell & Cynthia Weill’s (Brill Building songwriters of the 60s), “None of Us Are Free,” is performed solidly but gains no new ground. The vocals are still strong, poignant & well-intentioned. “Indian Hill, Ohio, 1967,” is short — but equally powerful.
“What’s Wrong With You,” is a short rocker but the potent “Lady of the Harbor,” is the jewel of the LP. Jimmy Calire’s string arrangement is exceptional. The song’s a stunner in a Leonard Cohen tradition. Pulled off admirably by Rain. Producer Mark Hallman plays all instruments with some guests in tow.
To her credit, Rain’s involved with issues/projects but as for the songs — none are written in a 60s folk-singer stinging radical fashion. This is what keeps Rain’s work grounded & appreciated. Though I believe an artist should take care not to jeopardize a percentage of their income & audience for politics or let those references be on a musician’s resume.
The songs have folk narratives but no vintage Joan Baez posturing. Rain’s voice makes the 9-songs fluid, listenable & lovely. It’s well-conceived. She may be a lone wolf but even a lone wolf has its territory. Rain Perry takes a generic stance that whites are privileged & we have demons. She isn’t too heavy-handed about it but should address the small fact many whites live in trailer parks, the inner-city & poverty-stricken areas like Appalachia. The LP could’ve encompassed the underprivileged & poor in general. Something to consider.
But as for the LP – a good song is a good song. There are many here.
Color photo by Timothy Teague. The CD is available @ https://www.rainperry.com/