“Closer to Myself,” a new song by the Miami-based singer-songwriter Rachel Angel, starts simply enough: the click of drumsticks, and someone counting off “One! Two! One-two!” Then, after a quick drum roll, the song blossoms into its full, golden splendor. The retro-country sound is rich and appealing, with some nice Wall of Sound-esque production and lovely pedal steel. But it’s Angel’s voice, strong and soulful like Patsy Cline’s or Roy Orbison’s, that really catches the listener’s attention. To quote another influence of hers, Angel Olsen, she sings high and wild, and she adds great power and beauty to “Closer to Myself.”
Although she sounds like she’s straight out of Nashville (or Bakersfield, if you prefer), Angel is actually from Miami – not necessarily a place known for its country bona fides. But listening to her sing, it’s clear that Angel has the gumption and tenacity to do what she wants to do, even if it’s not easy at first. Indeed, the lyrics make it clear that it isn’t, in fact, always easy for her: “Every time I get a little late/I feel a little closer to my fate.” Something as minor as being slightly late can feel disastrous if you’re not secure with your place in the world.
Thankfully, Angel gets there soon enough. Addressing some unseen beau, she sings: “I’m getting closer to myself and less to you.” It’s not self-centered or self-absorbed to focus on yourself, understanding your own needs and desires before you take on those of others. In fact, it’s often the only way to get better at recognizing what other people need – or indeed, recognizing that what you need is to be away from them. Angel’s voice is gorgeous, and the music goes down as easy as a cold beer, but she gives off the feeling that she’s compromised enough. So much the better for the listeners.