Rachael Yamagata says her ambitious sophomore album, “A Record in Two Parts … Elephants and Teeth Sinking Into Heart*,” “almost goes against everything I believe in (for) a record.
“I’m not a big fan of long records or double discs by any means,” the singer-songwriter tells Billboard.com about what is, in fact, a two-CD set, one (“Elephants”) with 10 songs and the other, “Teeth…,” with five. “After I played around with (song) sequences and stuff, I felt like there were really two listening experiences. So I split them, and it really came out beautifully, I thought.”
The two parts of the album, which comes out Oct. 7 on Warner Bros., have decidedly different characters. “Elephants” is more familiar to Yamagata’s 2004 debut “Happenstance” in its darker and more intimate tone. “Teeth…,” meanwhile, takes her in a new direction, strapping on the guitar for what Yamagata describes as “this mix of ‘Pulp Fiction’ surf guitar, PJ Harvey [and] Tom Waits-flavored rock tunes which would be great to play live but … just developed into this entity that would break the beauty of (‘Elephants’).”
The four-year break between albums — which Yamagata made mostly in Nebraska with Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) and also with “Happenstance” producer John Alagia — was caused by shifts in the business end of her career. Changes at her original label, RCA, led her to be released from her contract there, and she also changed managers. Yamagata says she was even looking into releasing the new album on her own if she had to.
“It certainly was extremely frustrating,” she acknowledges. “Was there a period where I was severely depressed? Absolutely. But I realized I loved the record and was proud of it, and whatever comes will come. Things just randomly fell together.”
Yamagata plans to start playing live to support the album with showcase gigs in major cities during September and October. Afterwards she hopes to link with another artist for a joint tour or line up her own set of headlining dates.