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Rachel Goodrich, Tinker Toys
It has been a good year for South Florida's quirky local indie darling Rachel Goodrich, what with a glowing shoutout from the New York Times this past December and her official debut appearance at SXSW this past spring. It was all well-deserved and timed with the October 2008 release of her debut full-length, Tinker Toys (Yellow Bear Records). Like the playthings from which it cribs its name, the album is sophisticated in its simplicity and a whole lot of fun. A real lover of whimsy, Goodrich usually eschews the typical singer/songwriter guitar in favor of a wider swath of instruments, applying liberal doses of harmonica, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, xylophone, and even kazoo. She toys with her voice as well, shifting from a breathy whisper to an almost bluesy sigh, sort of like Billie Holiday gone twee-pop (just try to imagine it). Rather than being insufferably charming, though, the result is mentally indelible. For all her faux-naif trappings, Goodrich is an astonishingly mature crafter of melody, able to cinch clever wordplay and slightly hippied-out narrative into a recognizable pop structure. Occupying a rare creative space between the experimental stylings of acts like CocoRosie and the polish of VH1 faves like Sara Bareilles, Goodrich should soon rightfully take her place as South Florida's Next Big Thing.