The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Rachel Vogelzang. Courtesy photo.

Rachel Vogelzang

When: Friday, Jan. 16, at 8 p.m.
Where: The Local, 2 East Main St., Warner 
More: and 

Building Blocks
Songwriter follows new album with busy schedule

By Michael Witthaus

 Every song on Blocks, the satisfying debut album from Rachel Vogelzang, is personal. 

“They’re all autobiographical, my own stories,” Vogelzang said in a recent phone interview. But writing through her joy and struggle is about self-discovery, not settling scores, she explained, noting a well-known pop star’s penchant for lyrically torching her ex-boyfriends. 
“I’ve been accused of ‘Swifting’ before, but I don’t write them for those people — it’s how I work things out … I haven’t had too many people angry at me.” Vogelzang paused a moment, then allowed, “there is one song not on the album that sometimes gets the subject upset.”
Relationship processing is evident on stripped-down ballads like the poignant “21 Days” and “Doors,” and the flip side of such sentiment is shown in “True.” Vogelzang wrote the latter us-against-the-world love song five years ago, around the time she started appearing at Concord clubs like the now defunct Green Martini.
Overall, the new record is a mostly buoyant affair.  The rollicking opener “Not Yours” echoes Lisa Loeb and Sixpence None the Richer; it stays upbeat from there. “Words,” the final track, is a folkie “Hips Don’t Lie” with stick-to-the-brain lines like, “I don’t have to say with my words what I’ve already said with my curves.”  
Blocks took Vogelzang a year to make. For the traditionally solo performer, working at Rocking Horse Studio with producer Brian Coombes was an eye-opening experience. “I’ve learned a lot about putting something together [from] open mike to a band,” she said. “We went through many iterations of each song.”
“Wild” is one example. “We just couldn’t get a really good feel for it at first,” she said, “but once I heard the accordion, I was psyched to have it on there.” One of the record’s most infectious tracks, “Wild” also sums up the spirit driving Vogelzang and her music. “You woke this wild heart,” she sings. “Now, keep up if you can.”
Blocks dropped in October. Since then, Vogelzang has kept a frenetic schedule with a full-time desk job, a young daughter and plenty of gigs. She hosts four different open mikes — True Brew and Tandy’s Top Shelf in Concord, The Local in Warner and Hilltop Pizzeria in Epsom, which launches Jan. 19. 
Vogelzang will share the Hilltop reins with new collaborator John Burlock. “I heard him play last summer and was really impressed,” she said, adding with a chuckle, “he says I threatened him with bodily harm if he didn’t come to one of my open mikes. I’m not sure….”
She expects Burlock to join her when at The Local on Jan. 16. “We’ve been working on some songs together,” she said, adding that the two are close to forming a band.
Vogelzang heaped praise on The Local’s owner, Bill Meadows. The restaurant/bar offers original live music every Friday and Saturday. “I love the way he treats his musicians,” she said. “He pays them what they’re worth and is very supportive of the local community.”  
Ever energetic, Vogelzang will debut a concert series at Concord’s New England College on Jan. 23. Called “Near/Far,” the monthly event will join a local performer with one from outside the area. Steven Rogers, a Boston performer who helped out with vocals on Blocks, will join for the first show.
For the singer/songwriter, it’s a gratifying pace; 2015 marks Vogelzang’s fifth year of performing “Music is not yet enough to pay the bills, but I am lucky that my hobby makes me a little money on the side,” she said. “Not everyone is lucky enough to have their second job be one that gives them so much joy.” 
As seen in the January 15, 2015 issue.

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