Album Review: Popular Songs For Wholesome Families – Rae Fitzgerald

Born just outside of St. Louis and raised primarily in Alabama, Rae Fitzgerald is a twenty-seven year old singer-songwriter. Her older music is acoustic, but her most recent album, Popular Songs For Wholesome Families, out June 3, has been described as “dream-folk” and “progressive indie-rock”.

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The album cover.

The first track, Earth, Everything, begins with Fitzgerald’s soft, slightly haunting vocals and sparse instrumentation. The song is ethereal and quiet, with sorrowful lyrics proclaiming “welcome to Earth, everything hurts”. Fitzgerald utilizes her impressively high range, with almost siren-like vocals. The second track, and first single, is entitled Jackal ii, and begins with Fitzgerald singing in a slightly lower range. It also features some impressive belting, showing the singer’s versatility. At one point about midway through the song, there is an intense crescendo in the music, creating an air of expectancy, although the song goes back to its quiet feel directly after it and generates an unnerving feeling. At five minutes and eight seconds, Jackal ii seems to drag on slightly towards the end. This track ends with a soft fadeout, and the third track, Copper & Genesis, begins. If Rae Fitzgerald is a dream-folk artist, Copper & Genesis feels more folk and less dreamy, as opposed to Earth, Everything. In contrast with the others, Copper & Genesis is slightly less attention-grabbing; however, it is an interesting take on the folk genre.

The sixth track, Dark Man, begins with acoustic guitar and echoing vocals. It’s more relaxing than the other tunes, but the lyric “I think something’s wrong” immediately unsettles the listener, and draws their attention back to the lyrics rather than the instrumentals. The rest of the song discusses the singer’s father and family life, proclaiming “my father was a very dark man, and that dark man was my best friend” as well as saying that he “raised his kids Christians”. The track is not only a peek into Fitzgerald’s family life, but their influences on her and her relationship with them. The seventh track, Lost in Ukrainian Village, is the second single off of the album, and explores the idea of home, and finding one’s place in the world. Fitzgerald laments, “home is where I wanna go” as she sings about what “home” means to her.

The tenth track is titled Tower, and begins with slightly muffled vocals accompanied by a very sparse, intricate electronic melody. The song is mostly gentle and soft, with several interspersed intense moments. The song ends with a haunting fadeout, and the final track, Jackal, begins. This track seems to be the counterpart to Jackal ii, but it is unclear specifically how the two are related. While it starts with muffled vocals, they become clear again at the end of the song. At only two minutes and forty-nine seconds, however, the track ends too soon and leaves the listener wanting more.

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Rae Fitzgerald.

The genre “dream-folk” is much more “odd” than “indie-rock”. Rae Fitzgerald brings the two together in Popular Songs for Wholesome Families. Both genres have been used to describe Rae Fitzgerald, and surprisingly, both fit her music very well. Although dream-folk is a very unique genre, Fitzgerald is obviously a master of it, and we hope she will continue to prove her prowess within the genre. 

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