Humboldt County’s Rachel Beccaria Is a True Songbird

8 May

As a DJ on KZSU Stanford, I get the opportunity to play a wide variety of fresh new releases from indie artists across the country, and in fact, around the world. Many of these artists are from well-known hotbeds of music: from the San Francisco Bay Area to Austin, Texas or Athens, Georgia — and from London, England to Melbourne, Australia.

But the best part of being a DJ and writing this blog is when I’m introduced to a truly gifted artist who is virtually unknown and from an area so small that you probably couldn’t find it on a map.

Such is the case with Rachel Beccaria, a Songbird from Freshwater, California — nestled deep in Humboldt County’s redwood forests on California’s rugged Northcoast.

The backstory on this young lady is that she has had little formal musical training, but has been writing poetry in a personal journal for years. Beccaria discovered her singing voice in her twenties and began writing songs that express the emotions in her poetry.

In 2016, she made contacts with a number of local musicians including Zach Zwerdling (a guitarist and lawyer, who graduated from Stanford in 1973). Zwerdling was toying with the idea of starting his own small label, Mercury Sky Records. After two years of writing and recording — using other local musicians and a local recording studio — Beccaria’s EP Songbird became Mercury Sky’s first release.

The album is a revelation — primarily downhome folk-pop, with a hint of alt country and one pop-rocker. The arrangements are clean and crisp and the musical talent is first-rate throughout. The six songs included on the EP offer a thoroughly enjoyable — if too short — listen.

Track highlights: After a short and inspirational a cappella hymn, “The Strength Within,” to open the EP, the second track, “Do Anything,” is a mid-tempo, bouncy folk-pop tune with a nice bass line and just a hint of country in the vocals. It’s the first single from the EP. Co-writer, Dominic Romano, joins Beccaria on the vocals.

Track 4, “Used Again,” illustrates Beccaria’s breadth. This one is a melodic pop-rocker, with smoldering resentment evident in the storytelling vocals. There’s some edgy guitar work and a bit of synth as well.

“Unexpected” shifts back to a confessional ballad, with strummed and fingerpicked guitar — and a shimmering synth track.

The closing number is another highlight of the Songbird EP. “Better With You” is an upbeat, toe-tapping duet with Scott William Perry, who’s from the Medford area in southern Oregon. This is a song you’ll want to turn all the way up on a road trip with the windows down this summer.

Beccaria’s Songbird EP was released at a sold-out show in Eureka’s Historic Eagle House on May 4th. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon Music and Bandcamp — as well as through the leading streaming services. Congrats to Mercury Sky Records for shining a light on this wonderful new artist.

 

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5 Responses to “Humboldt County’s Rachel Beccaria Is a True Songbird”

  1. Susie Foot May 9, 2018 at 3:18 pm #

    Thank you for your stellar review! Rachel is a unique artist, and I’m proud to say that I’m the co-owner of the studio where “Songbird” was recorded. After many years as a recording engineer in San Francisco, my husband, Jimmy Foot and I moved up to Mckinleyville, Humboldt County, and built our studio from the ground up, behind our home. It’s become one of the most popular studios in this area! Check out our story and our studio at
    http://www.bongoboystudio.com.
    Susie Foot

    • francisdickerson May 9, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

      The production quality on the album is outstanding! It’s great that artists in the area have such a first-rate facility available without having to travel to the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in Blue Lake and went to Arcata High before coming to Stanford, so I well know what a wonderful area you live in.

  2. Iesha Windes May 9, 2018 at 3:46 pm #

    I was at the Rachel Beccaria CD Release on May 4th! She was a pleasure to watch and listen too! Listening to this songbird is like opening up her soul and finding a connection with her and every other person in that audience. what we all shared there that night was magical! I know every word to all her released songs and I’m desperately awaiting her next album!

    • francisdickerson May 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

      Her real-world soul and musical gifts come through on every song!

  3. jonmcousins May 9, 2018 at 9:54 pm #

    As one of Francis’s co-DJs at KZSU, I’m happy to chip in here with a little more richly deserved support for Rachel Beccaria’s EP. It’s a super, super piece of work, and it sounds so great on the radio. Unquestionably a soundtrack for summer.

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