CD Review: Rachel Kate With Love And Hate

The debut CD from the former lead singer of The Shaniqua Brown is a departure from her former band's punk/metal reputation. Why Shovels & Rope, Gillian Welch, and Neko Case fans will get into it

Rachel KateWith Love And Hate

Releases September 14, 2013

The first thing that hit me when I started playing this CD was what a great voice Rachel has. The second thing that struck me was her attitude. The opening track, “Hell Is Your Home,” has none of the subtle, refrained, polite posture of most women singer/songwriters. She cusses, yells, and gets down and dirty with her message of resentment and pity for her subject. Whoever wronged Rachel should get that message loud and clear, along with her off-handed appreciation, “Thanks for teaching me to hate.”


Whether it be hate or love, Rachel found enough inspiration to fill a very fine debut CD. Since the dissolution of the loud and proud The Shaniqua Brown band—of which Rachel, not someone named Shaniqua, was the lead singer—Rachel has been playing solo and group shows frequently in an apparent effort to find a new sound all her own.




Her classic country influences are clear on songs like “This Institution” and “Lost.” “My Painting” is a dreamlike lullaby that hypnotizes. But Rachel is certainly a quirky soul, and lets herself go far left of center on “Oh My God.” That track’s peppy waltz timing creates a whimsical counter to the song’s irreverent message to God, and culminates with the nightmarish mob shouting “Leave me alone.” The standout “Dancin’ Shoes” is a wonderfully well crafted song that put a smile on my face. While not written by Rachel, the credits have me guessing it was written about her many years ago.


The CD has a little blues, rock, country, folk, and other bits and pieces mixed in. Mostly, it is a lot of Rachel Kate; her impressive voice and attitude.


Behind Rachel’s voice and raw acoustic guitar, the core of the group is Brad Edwardson on upright bass, and Steve Sancho on all kinds of percussion. Diego Villona added some excellent cello, and Adam Clayton Cullen added the accordion. Backup singers Sarah Bandy and Stephanie Underhill round out the cast. It should be noted that Bandy and Edwardson are also with Rachel in the Local Honeys.


If you’re a fan of Shovels and Rope and are looking for a CD to tide you over until S&R’s next one, Rachel Kate with Love and Hate ought to do it for you. I wouldn’t put it past Gillian Welch or Neko Case fans to enjoy this either. Not to limit it to women-fronted bands, she could share a stage with Son Volt or Peter Case right now too.

The official release for Rachel Kate with Love and Hate is at the Charleston Music Hall Saturday September 14. Opening will be The Kernal, and Jordan Igoe.