Released Date: October 11th, 2011
By Evelyn Miska Krieger
Rachael Yamagata’s album Chesapeake is the third solo-release from this talented musician, but Yamagata still is flying under the radar for the most part. Unlike her sophomore release, Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart, Chesapeake is a bit more relaxed, a little less intense and while some listeners may miss that ferocity, the easy-going blues style of many of the tracks on her latest work has something going for it as well.
“Even If I Don’t” is positively cheerful by Yamagata standards and is a bit reminiscent of some of the work by A Fine Frenzy. The fast tempo and upbeat piano melody make this a good choice to kick off the album. While the message is still slightly on the sad side the song is a bit deceiving based on its style. “Starlight” has a little bit of a grittier feel on the verses and a catchy chorus. As with many of Yamagata’s songs, this displays a strong knack for blending genres with just the right dose of blues without it becoming a caricature of itself.
Unfortunately, the album loses a little of that energy and sass as it progresses and some tracks like “You Won’t Let Me” and “Saturday Morning” begin to get a little too much like something on an adult easy listening radio station. For someone as talented as Yamagata, this is disappointing, particularly after how good her second album was. Things get better with “The Way It Seems To Go” which has a little more of that energy as found on the first two tracks while still remaining true to Yamagata’s style and strengths. The bluesy piano is a good addition and lends the track a sort of throwback feel.
Chesapeake is an easy, pleasant album to listen to, but while that’s the case, it feels a like a little bit of a letdown after Elephants. Not too many of the tracks are standouts and a few of them even have the tendency to blur together. Part of the problem is that edge is lacking and, as a result, many of the tracks feel just a bit too safe, a bit too much like something Norah Jones might record and while Jones certainly has her share of Grammy Awards, there isn’t much that is exciting in its risk-taking. Yamagata has the ability and the nerve, it’s a shame more of that didn’t come out on her third album.