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Rakes: Dig Deep / OMN Featured Audio

This is the Rakes' debut: guitarist/vocalist Andrew Foster, vocalist Chelsea Walker, bassist D. Rives Curtright, drummer Tim, and keyboardist Jake, 

We are told:

Rock comes in many forms,  But, rock rooted in its ancestry; rock that both is loud and sweaty, made to dance to, while honoring its forefathers and steeping itself in the traditions of soul, is a form of rock that is both hard to describe and instantly recognizable when you hear it.

That is what Portland, Oregon-based male/female-dual vocal quartet Rakes accomplish on their self-titled debut, an eleven-track collection of soulful rock that is loud, danceable, and packs a mean punch; but, comes around with some tenderness as well.

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Andrew Foster, vocalist Chelsea Walker, bassist D. Rives Curtright, drummer Tim, and keyboardist Jake, Rakes’ debut, recorded at and released on Deer Lodge Records, is one fans of traditional rock will love.

“We decided that since it was our first album that self-titled would be fine, because names are hard,” jokes co-frontman Chelsea Walker.

Opening with the in-your-face rocker “Long Road,” Rakes make it clear they will be relentless.  “Carved In Bone” takes it down a notch; Jake’s keyboards adding nice texture to the steady beat of this mid-tempo rock force.

For Walker, “Carved In Bones” is one of the most memorable songs for her, the lyrics really hitting home.  “When we wrote it, I had just started dating my husband, and it was complicated,” she says of the song.

Furthering that, Foster adds that, “I think the music can be deceptively sweet and innocent, but when you hear the lyrics you're like, ‘wait, what did they just say?’  I wish we had included a lyrics sheet.  We've got some great lyrics.”

However, Foster admits that although he’s proud of the lyrics, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, either.

“I don't take myself that seriously.  They are all as significant as the next,” he says, when asked to name some of his favorite lyrics on the album.

“Dig Deep” is one of the album’s most danceable tracks, complete with horns, and really showcases the powerhouse duo of Foster and Walker’s vocal play.  The song is one of the tracks that really stick out to Foster and Walker as well, simply because the addition of the horns.  It also showcases Foster’s knack for writing biting lyrics within a vibrant melody that otherwise seems upbeat and happy, all the while telling a story - with Foster and Walker each playing a character, and at times playing call-and-response to the storyline.

The soulful “Stay With Me” finds the band turning down the volume and upping the tenderness, creating a rich, yet still raw heart-pulling number that wouldn’t sound out of place on the A.M. radio of yesteryear.  The horns and keys really flesh it out and bring it to life, while Walker’s voice adds sweetness to the sorrow of Foster’s intonation. 

The guitar-driven “’78” is another upbeat rocker, while “Don’t Know Why” unleashes Walker’s vocal prowess as she starts off the song with a bang.  “Dead Once Again” slows things down, without losing its teeth.  But it’s the knock-you-on-your-ass power of “Sinner,” hooks and all, along with the proclamation, “I know that I’m a sinner,” that will get you up out of your chair and dancing uncontrollably as you sing along.

Ending with the acoustic “Whiskey Woman,” the band strips it down to an acoustic guitar and Walker and Foster’s vocals.  Recorded out of the studio, in an empty bar, to one mic, the song is poignant with its rawness.  Sounding live and airy, it proves this loud rock band can be as powerful and moving simple and quiet.

“It’s a far more accurate representation of an album I’d like to listen to myself,” says Foster of the result, comparing it to other bands he’s been in.  Adds Walker, “For me, it's the first one that's actually been pressed and released!”

Foster attributes this to the fact that previously records he’s made have been on a tight budget and timeline.  “It’s far more relaxed and we took our time.”

Both Foster and Walker agree that the record came out bigger than they had envisioned.  When asked if there is a theme or message running through it, Foster shrugs that notion off, saying, “Nah.  Love and loss, I guess.  From the perspective of the narrator.”

With a release date set for September 18, 2020, yet no live shows or touring options on the immediate horizon due to the worldwide pandemic of Covid-19, the band wants people to hear this record and get the word out, but they’re also thinking about the next one.  Their goal for this record is to have it help them make the next one that much better.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to their self-titled debut.  From start to finish it’s a ride fans of rock ’n’ roll will throughly enjoy, while the lyrics will give you much to contemplate.

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