What We Leave Behind
Fascinating, Intriguing and Mostly Beautiful Modern Folk Ballads.
I don’t know why but I seem to be being kept drawn towards what we now know as ‘Modern Folk Music’……. thankfully not the ‘finger in the ear’ bilge that haunted many a Folk Club of my teenage years; but more a new take on the Singer-Songwriter ilk that I actually listened to in my darkened bedroom as I tried to get my head around ‘the meaning of life’.
There’s a couple of reasons I was initially drawn to this particular release; the quirky cover photo; with Rauchwerk looking like a renegade Geography teacher holding an odd looking instrument; coupled to the ‘typewriter font’ (I do get excited by a good font!) but when you look at the cover more intently, you will see it’s a Double-Exposure’ which becomes something of a metaphor for the songs contained therein.
Thankfully my trusty IPhone had already let me hear a few of the latter songs; otherwise the opening Traditional Folk ballad Mrs McLaughlin may well have put me off before I got under Starters Orders; but a week later I now rather like this intense tale of a proud young man signing up to join the army to fight in some unknown war; only for his mother to take it upon herself to take umbrage and knock the ‘Sergeant to the floor’ and stop the boy going. While it at first sounds like a WW1 song; it could actually be very contemporary too…… such is the cleverness off Rauchwerk’s writing.
Obviously it’s a ‘Folk Thang’ but founding member of The Lords of Liechtenstein flits between centuries and genres to tell his well written tales with consummate ease; one minute he is singing about running away to Memphis, then it’s a glorious tale of Queen Victoria then slides seamlessly into a sonnet about Carthage then with Skywalker he regales us with a loving tale of his Grandfather, who was indeed a Skywalker building those legendary buildings that fill the NYC skyline in between the wars.
In many ways this is a very simple sounding album; but I know the hard work and talent it takes from all concerned to create the loveliness of Alene and the starkly haunting Tears Shaped Like Islands (featuring the delightful voice of Caitlin Mahoney) and it’s hidden stories in each verse.
Then there are two very, very clever but eminently listenable and thought-provoking songs which are currently scrapping it out in my head for the title of RMHQ Favourite Track; possibly autobiographical but not necessarily literal; Modern Day Explorer which closes the album is a delightful History Lesson that ends with…… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but it is well worth seeking out.
The other is a bit of an oddity; but one that made me ruefully smile as it unravelled before my very eyes in the car. It Just Is will pass many listeners by; but just like Dan Rauchwerk I too am fascinated by wandering around graveyards and cemeteries reading the headstones and wondering who they were and more pertinently, what their stories were; as we all leave a mark on this world we live in. So; I’m choosing It Just Is; partly because it’s ‘different’ but mostly because it’s a beautiful love song to people the writer never knew. Which is a nice thing to do.
As I’ve said many times over the last four years; the whole purpose of this website is finding new artistes and delivering their work to your ears without you having to do any hard work; and in Dan Rauchwerk I think I’ve unearthed another musical diamond.
Released UK & Europe January 7th 2019
Released US & Canada Sept 27th 2018