It would be a disservice to the work she’s created in the past to pick through Rachel Grimes’ most recent record, the aptly named The Clearing (Temporary Residence Ltd.), without first allowing the whole piece its due. Nevertheless, there’s a masterful mix of late ’60s Miles Davis and the haunting minimalist synth-pop of Philip Glass that allows Grimes’ music the space it needs to play with the listener’s emotions without forcing her hand. Though she calls her music “chamber pop,” her ability to flawlessly mix genres hints at the beginning of a new age of contemporary jazz. For proof, I would direct you to the single “The Herald,” a mash-up of 60 years of jazz and classical reliefs that are funneled through pop filters.
For those listening to The Clearing cold, the entire piece may escape you. Much like her 2009 effort, Book of Leaves, the album works best when it’s digested as one long movement. Each ebb and flow strips away more and more of Grimes’ musical muscle until the only thing that’s left is the beating heart of her music: a mixed bag of swirling nature and emotional gray matter. This is this is why this album works. Where some musicians fake their emotions for money, Rachel Grimes only makes music that she would be proud of and The Clearing is definitely a work that shines amongst her own work, not to mention that of her contemporaries.