Song Premiere: Rachel Sumner, “Bred In the Bone”
Artists in Their Own Words – Song Premiere
Artist: Rachel Sumner (of Twisted Pine)
Upcoming release: Anything Worth Doing started with a conversation over coffee in October, 2016 with Daniel Radin. At that time I was in the studio making the first Twisted Pine album but had been squirreling away songs for a solo EP. I had heard from some friends that Daniel was beginning to produce records for a few folks in the Boston area, so I thought to reach out to him to see if he was interested in working with me. I knew and admired Daniel’s work with The Novel Ideas and was interested to see how he approached the producer role. I quickly learned that Daniel and I are cut from the same cloth: we both indulge the grandiose ideas and then whittle things down until the song feels right. The recording sessions became explorations of texture; we drew from Daniel’s expansive knowledge of modern indie-folk and rock, my experiences in various acoustic string-band formations, and my background as a classically trained woodwindist by incorporating flute and clarinet as features in some of the arrangements. Progress on the album slowed down in 2017 as I began to question my original song choices; the overall direction became less and less clear to me. Luckily, I was asked to put a band together for a slow night at Lizard Lounge in Cambridge in early January, 2018. I recruited Deni Hlavinka from The Western Den to play keys and Benjamin Burns from Honeysuckle to play drums, and we worked up a set of my songs. Hearing my music in that foreign context made things suddenly click. I woke up the next day knowing exactly what songs would be on the EP; who I wanted to work with; and how to synthesize the wide variety of sounds at my disposal into a cohesive work that truly represented my point of view as a songwriter, musician, and producer. I restarted the machine and got to work with Daniel, calling on friends from the Boston folk scene to flesh out the arrangements. I was incredibly honored to be joined by my longtime musical partners Sam Moss and Michael Siegel; my Twisted Pine bandmate Kathleen Parks; Icelandic harmonica wiz Thorleif Davidsson from Kaleo; Danny Hoshino from The Novel Ideas; and the distinguished folk singer-songwriter Ian Fitzgerald. This was very much the Dream Team for me. I am thrilled to the core about the final product and very grateful that such a talented, lovely bunch of people believed in me enough to learn my songs and contribute to them.
Song: “Bred In the Bone”
Quote: “Bred In The Bone” has been the most rewarding of this batch of songs to finish. I edited version after version up to the bitter end, logging in about a year-and-a-half of transformations, which mirrors the theme of transformation present in the song itself. Little by little, each version homed in closer to the honesty I was searching to convey (the apex being when out of frustration I wrote, “WHAT IS YOUR POINT RACHEL?” alongside a version of the lyrics I had been workshopping in my notebook). I came across the song’s title phrase while reading What’s Bred In The Bone, the second book of Robertson Davies’ Cornish Trilogy, and was drawn toward exploring the darker side of human nature, particularly how love can turn into habit and how deep that can run. There’s a sense of patience in the melody and meter that gives way to an onslaught of realizations, a swirling bridge of strings and dreamlike voices that lead the listener to find and accept resolution in a single question, “Is it all bred in the bone?”
Anything Worth Doing will be released November 16, but is available for pre-order now HERE.