Bio

Incendiary young country singer and songwriter Rachel Brooke channels the darkest nights of American Southern music, pulling forth influences from raw, early country singing to Chicago blues greats, vintage New Orleans “jass” bands to old animated cartoons, all tied together in the framework of her old-fashioned melodies. 

It takes a peculiar vision to be able to unite these many different sounds, but Brooke’s pulled off the most difficult task: she’s created a new sound from a pastiche of old music without sounding derivative. Instead her music sounds incredibly fresh, sepia-toned perhaps with the vision of our distant past, but as rough-edged and hand-honed as the best of today’s roots music. She’s quite the paradox: a young songwriter who perfectly embodies the music of the American South, but who lives in the wilds of Northern Michigan. An artist who grew up with parents in a bluegrass band, but who spent her teen years raging away in an all-girl punk band. A shy, soft-spoken introvert whose wall- shaking voice has earned her a place at cutting- edge roots music festivals like Muddy Roots, and the Rochester International Jazz festival. An icon of underground country music who covers jazz greats like Fats Domino on her new record. But when you sing this well and play like hell, who do you have to answer to anyways?

Photo by Kelly Graham

Photo by Kelly Graham

"Take everything you think you know about country music and throw it out the window. That pop rock crap y’all call country is nothing compared to what Rachel Brooke is laying down. She’s an old soul in the way Hank Williams and Memphis Minnie were, culling together both country and country blues into an album that is easily digestible for anyone who gets scared off by real country music. Etta James once said that the blues and country music were kissing cousins. Rachel Brooke is their love child." -Chip McCabe

Gossip

Modern Mal are what might happen if blurry reincarnations of Leonard Cohen and Dolly Parton hooked up to form a bent Americana band in the Michigan north woods. Dolly hopes he'd love her even if she wore different-colored shoes; Leonard hopes she never sees him in his old earmuffs. Two of their songs adduce astronomical as opposed to astrological metaphors, and two others are lightened by glockenspiel colors with their roots in Dolly's Fender Rhodes. Inspirational Verse: "Death death death, where do you take us next?"- Robert Christgau, Noisey/ Vice 

"This figure is the misanthrope at the center of the record and, not surprisingly, a good bit of melancholia surrounds the proceedings. However, dark those feelings may be, Brooke’s voice adds a necessary lightness and brightness that play with the dark undercurrents while lending the music a summery vibe. Those seemingly opposing forces balance each other out and make this album an intriguing piece of art." (Modern Mal) - Popmatters.com

"Rachel Brooke and Robbins’ attention to melodic detail makes for a stirring experience, but it is ultimately their exceptional lyricism that will bring listeners back again and again. Give “Wild Heart” a listen and stay tuned for more from this profound talent." (Modern Mal) - Atwood Magazine

Daytrotter Session

They say rock and roll is the devil’s music. But ol’ Lucifer has never been afraid to tap his pointed toe to the right kind of country tunes. Southern country roots rock revivalist Rachel Brooke has a few numbers the dark prince might be interested in. –UTNE Reader 

"Rachel Brooke brings together a catchy melody, a cool band and a cute smile for her latest video, “A Killer’s Dream.” But don’t be fooled by this beauty. The first line is: “He’s a hit man/She’s a queen.” So you can kind of imagine where this one’s going. Brooke grew up in a bluegrass/folk family but rocked out in a punk band as a teenager. Now she’s living in northern Michigan and recorded the tracks on her new album without computers — now that’s killer." -Craig Shelburne, CMT" 

““Producing and playing most of the instruments herself, Rachel demonstrates her immense talent and diversity on this album. (Down in the Barnyard 2011) The song writing is top notch, her voice is eerily old-time-authentic, and the whole album has the ability to whisk you away on the country technicolor lullaby head trip that she has painted during it's near-hour long set. Rachel is just hitting her stride, but with this release is proving that we should all be keeping our eyes on her.” –Shooter Jennings,” 

“Rachel Brooke’s country twangy voice conjures up memories of Patsy Cline on album opener “Fox in a Hen House”, and the band crashing its way through the country-blues arrangement does nothing to lessen that. Brooke isn’t content to simply mimic country standards, however, so she stretches her range to include torch songs like “Late Night Lover”—complete with muted trumpet solo and theremin noodling in the background—as well as blues like “Life Sentence Blues” and the seven-minute duet “Old Faded Memory”, featuring vocals from an uncredited male singer. All this is only in the first half of the record; the back half is nearly as varied and every bit as accomplished, with standouts being the ominous stomp of “The Black Bird” and album closer “A Killer’s Dream”, with its tasty old-time rock and roll beat. Brooke’s voice is the thread that stitches all these disparate styles together, and its sultry, knowing twang does a fine job of hooking the listener and keeping them hooked.” Pop Matters 

"This here's unadorned, raw-to-the-gut country blues”Pat King - CC2K 

“Rachel Brooke is a little bit country, a little bit gothic and a little bit indescribable. She’s the rebel Southern belle who’s actually from Michigan. Her words are tough, yet elegant; her music is refreshingly simple and quietly suggests that Brooke herself is not. Critics and fans have said that she was born in the wrong time — and perhaps that’s true — but in the midst of synthetic dance music’s assault on current culture, an unadorned and honest song stands out in a novel way. With two full-length solo albums and a four-song vinyl 7-inch, Brooke is an intriguing and badass arrival to the neo-traditional country scene. She’s the tough chick who can keep up with the boys in chores and whiskey shots, then pick up a banjo and silence everyone in the saloon with her beautiful twang and poetic lyrics. Her music is paradoxically old-timey and fresh; it transports you to a hazy rural daydream.” - Emily Richardson, Buzzbin Magazine 

“if there's any justice in the music world (very rarely), then people forty or fifty years from now will say that some singer or another reminds them of that 'ol Rachel Brooke they used to listen to on quiet and brooding evenings, while the sun was setting. What we have here are four dark lullabies that take us to Parts Beyond. This here's unadorned, raw-to-the-gut country blues. (Late Night Lover)” - Pat King, CC2K 

“We have watched as Rachel Brooke has evolved from the conflict of her punk and country roots trying to mix and blend, to a classic, cohesive style that is all her own, and compliments one of the most naturally-blessed voices in country today. Late Night Lover is a gift that I am grateful for” - Saving Country Music 

“Normally, it would be a cliché to call a performer multi-faceted. Not so with Rachel Brooke. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to put Brooke into any single category. Pick up her latest solo CD, “Down in the Barnyard,” and play tracks like “Meet Me By the Apple Tree,” “Don’t Forget Me When I Die” and “City of Shame,” and you’ll see the country and bluegrass side of Brooke, who lists Hank Williams and the Carter family with Johnny Cash among her musical influences. Think Loretta Lynn, with her clear voice and direct stories, with the styling of Clara Bow. But then take in “Barnyard,” and you’ll hear Brooke’s lovely voice croon lyrics with decidedly dark themes, along the lines of gothic country."” - Jaquie Corgan, Buzzbin Magazine 

"What makes an artist like Brooke more appealing to me is that she understands that there are more nuanced ways to tap into the visceral aspect of country without being so heavy handed." - Kaguekne 

“For all the deep root folkies, hipsters, nics, and cowboy jokers there’s some mighty fine new music out today. A second album, “Down In The Barnyard,” from Rachel Brooke, which is as straight up and unadorned as creek whiskey in a mason jar. Its filled with songs about tough women (don’t cross ‘em, don’t boss ‘em) sung over plaintive banjo strums, boxcar rhythms, bottleneck blues, and, what is that, a pump organ? Nice. There’s a Maybelle Carter feel here, nothing fancy, nothing superfluous, nothing artificial. There’s also a touch of the gothic here, but that too is keeping with the old parlor days. I don’t suppose there’s a place for Ms. Brooke on the radio, beyond community stations, and it breaks my heart that she won’t be breaking yours. If you like it, tell someone. It’s a rule.” - New Music For Old Ears 

"Rachel Brooke's brand of simplified country is complemented perfectly by the slight twang in her voice and the heavy banjo and guitar in the background. The Michigan-based singer/songwriter's clear voice carries with it all of the melancholy blues of Appalachian folk music combined with the grit of a modern-day rocker." - Quad City Times 

"Brooke's music is genuinely heartfelt and she sings with real passion and honesty. She might actually live in Detroit, but she'll make you feel like you are sat on a porch in remotest Alabama." - David Harry, Americana UK 

“Brooke is carrying on a longstanding, but recently overlooked, tradition of strong women in country music. None of that phony pop stars “empowering” woman B.S. manufactured divas throwout either. When Brooke lays it down, she does so plain and simple"” - Steve Hallo, Buzzbin Magazine 

“Rachel Brooke...was nothing short of amazing as she captivated the crowd with her sultry drawl and presence. Her country/folk ballads have unique dark undertones about them; songs with wicked twists like murdering cheating lovers in “The Barnyard” had the crowd reeling for more.” - Jessica, Indie Music Nashville 

"Rachel Brooke's music hearkens back to this time in country music when the keys to success were a steady rhythm, a clear and honest voice and a good story." - April Fecca, Now this Sound Is Brave 

“(Down in the Barnyard) "There was a strange kind of cognitive dissonance at work here, the brain pulled in all sorts of directions at once. There's so much depth here. So much room for vision, for contemplation. It's metaphysical country music. But the good stuff always is. To borrow from the great Dean Moriarty: This woman knows time. Dig?"” - Pat King, CC2K 

"It sounds like Rachel has just emerged from a lost, out of time 'holler' somewhere in the high Appalachians with all of that old time 'hillbilly' eerie edginess and mystery completely intact." - American Roots UK 

“(Down in the Barnyard) I love this album. I think it's superb. I am astounded by how wholly original the thing is, how successful the theme and vision were implemented and seen through, that it brought out Rachel's subtly brilliant songwriting, and most importantly, did not suffocate her most important asset: her timeless, flawless voice.” - Saving Country Music 

"The only other person I've ever known of that can convey that much pain with just their voice and an acoustic guitar is Hank Williams. Rachel Brooke is not only a singular talent, if you ask me she is a national treasure - Saving Country Music 

"..Rachel Brooke, a badass...with a heart made of whiskey..." - Real Detroit 

"Rachel's voice is one in a million. It's all natural. She did not develop a unique singing style to delineate her from the masses, like is so common with over-singing songbirds these days. She purified her own voice, with no facade or embellishment. It is so wondrous because it is adorable and seemingly innocent, yet at the same time aged like a ghost, haunting, and filled to utmost capacity with pain" - Saving Country Music 

"Rachel Brooke has the wintertime blues , but unlike the rest of us, her end product of misery is something haunting and beautiful, rather than alcohol and bad poetry-mired." - Real Detroit 

“(Lonesome Wyatt and Rachel Brooke) The ideal soundtrack for receiving the Last Rites... like Nick Cave with a banjo.” - Rue Morgue Magazine 

“(Lonesome Wyatt and Rachel Brooke)"It is a pinnacle of gothic country, and at times it reaches the pinnacle of all music."” - Saving Country Music 

“(Rachel Brooke with Modern Mal) "Soul-scraping duets from folks into Hank Williams Sr., played at wrong speeds. Slow flowin' molasses of the old heart, the old man said."” - Detroit Metro Times 

“(Rachel Brooke with Modern Mal) This duo's stuff is beautiful; whispers of loneliness at the end of the bar dotted with doused regulars who have nothing else in life but their own reflection.” - Detroit Metro Times