Daughter of Mennonite missionaries, Rachel Ries hails from the inspiring, vast expanses of South Dakota, by way of Zaire. Her formative years were filled with Congolese spirituals, Mennonite hymns and The Carpenters. Currently splitting her time between rural Vermont and New York City, Rachel crafts sly and compassionate songs for the crooked hearted. With an electric guitar, clear voice and steady hand, she pulls the listener into her world of city grit, country dirt, and her open-eyed search for redemption and reason. Her songs are fine-tuned delicacy with a snarl and disarming candor. Proudly carrying the torch of her love for the domestic arts, Rachel’s homemade preserves and hand stitched notebooks can often be found at shows, nestled amid the 180 gram vinyl, cds and t-shirts.
Ries, returning from a years-long hiatus, released her third long player, Ghost of a Gardener in 2014. Uncut calls it a “Gorgeous gush of warm-blooded harmonies” and Maverick UK states it’s a “technicolor treasure in word and melody.” Ghost caught the ear and earned interviews with such notables as NPR’s Weekend Edition, BBC London and Ireland’s RTÉ Radio One.
Rachel’s voice at times echoes that of Regina Spektor or early Maria Muldaur and this new album is full of thoughtful and inventive arrangements. Fingerpicked melodicism pairs with sweeping strings & analog synths while a Merle Haggard-style drinking song struts with trumpets and close knit harmonies. The album, produced by Ries along with Secretly Canadian artist David Vandervelde, also includes Emmett Kelly (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Cairo Gang), Gregory Alan Isakov, Evan Bivins (Cary Ann Hearst, Duncan Sheik) and members of Brooklyn’s Cuddle Magic.
Since 2008’s Country EP, a split 45″ with Anaïs Mitchell released on Righteous Babe Records, Ries (“reese”) has recorded and toured extensively with Mitchell, supporting Bon Iver and others. In addition to Mitchell, Rachel has recorded and collaborated with Jeremy Messersmith and Gregory Alan Isakov, who appears on Ghost. Since returning to music, Rachel received a Chicago 3-Arts award, worked in Chicago theatre, embarked on four European tours, learned how to repair Wurlitzers and (kind of) play the drums.