Album Review: Rae Fitzgerald – ‘Popular Songs for Wholesome Families’

Born south of St. Louis, twenty-seven year old Rae Fitzgerald is soon to release her full-length studio album, Popular Songs For Wholesome Families on June 3rd. The album is a curation of her unique blend of dream-folk and progressive indie-rock, with stunning, poetic lyrics built upon years of studying creative writing. The album explores life-altering moments during Fitzgerald’s life, expanding on personal relationships and observations whilst also pondering on religion, morality and the American plight. Popular Songs For Wholesome Families brought upon her long-time collaborator and close friend, Lucas Oswald of Shearwater, to assist with the recording, mixing and producing whilst also playing a number of instruments on the record.

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Popular Songs For Wholesome Families opens with Earth, Everything, a track that is filled with ethereal production and airy vocals. The dreamy track opens with wobbling synths and delicate chimes, which steadily pick up with a soft, drum beat and distorted audio samples. Earth, Everything has a strong ghostly feeling, like you are being taken into another world through the relaxing vibrations that Fitzgerald is creating. The first single off the album comes next, with Jackal ii, which instantly has me drawing comparisons to Daughter, with the melancholic production and emotional delivery in her vocals. Her vocals are paired with poignant synths and a simple beat to create a wobbling, gloomy soundscape. Her vocals convey so much emotion, as she lyrically explores her own personal experiences in a creative, poetic way, whilst truly connecting with the listener. The album then takes an indie-rock direction, with Copper & Genesis, with more prominent guitars and progressive drums. It is still quite a slower song, with strong, powerful vocals and lyrics that are hard to depict whether they are uplifting or filled with sorrow when accompanied by the upbeat instrumentals.

The second single off the album is Lost In Ukrainian Village, which features stunning imagery of being out of our comfort zone, with the lyrics, “Home is where I wanna go/but home is just a dream, I know.” The track has a quite unsettling feel, with Fitzgerald’s husky, sultry vocals accompanied by a grungy guitar and a heavier, pounding drum, creating the darkest track off the album. Another highlight of the album is Magic Town, which opens with a simple acoustic guitar paired with soft, delicate vocals. The track is quite drawn back, with the addition of a trumpet and simple strumming, it is probably the most gentle and relaxing songs and would be perfectly paired with a nice, rainy winter’s day. Tower instantly draws comparisons to The XX, with faint vocals underneath atmospheric soundscapes and delicate electronic beat paired with swirling synths. It is the perfect example of how Fitzgerald can go from a guitar-heavy, progressive-rock sound to dreamy, electronic folk vibes.

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Popular Songs For Wholesome Families is filled with stunning imagery, depicting Fitzgerald’s personal journey whilst touching on social issues and observations. She delicately combines a variety of genres to develop an album that blends together, through combining dreamy-pop, with rootsy-folk elements and progressive indie-rock to create something completely new. Her lyrics are gorgeous, painting pictures through poetic lines that have clearly been developed through years of studying creative writing and are perfectly conveyed through her emotive delivery and vocal ability. Popular Songs For Wholesome Families is filled with hidden gems and is well worth the listen from beginning to end.