Rachel Angel's croon on the title track of her debut album Midnite Heart Attack has a distinctly country music twang. But before the song's end, there's the shred of an electric guitar played in reverse, giving it a less earthy, more surreal effect fitting from where the album found its inspiration.
"A lot of the songs come from dreams or a dream-like state," Angel tells New Times.
Though Angel was born and raised in South Florida, she has a love/hate relationship with her hometown.
"There's a lot I don't like about Miami. I don't like all the flashy stuff, but there's an extraordinary community," she explains. "Any time I go out, I meet the coolest people."
But Miami is where her roots are. It's where she learned to sing, where her older siblings got her into Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel, and where she first picked up the guitar at age 16. It's also the city she spurned as soon as she could after graduating high school.
"When I was young, I really hated it here. I got out as soon as I could," Angel says. "At 18, I moved to California and then to New York City."
After a while, she felt her creativity stifled by New York City and returned to South Florida. "I couldn't hear myself think anymore in New York," she adds.
Upon her return, she started writing the nine songs that made up Midnite Heart Attack.
"I was going through a lot of personal issues," Angel says. "I was newly sober and living alone for the first time. I isolated myself in my apartment in Miami Beach and went through an intense creative spurt. Through meditation came all the songs."
The album's title, Midnite Heart Attack, points to the themes of anxiety and emotional hardships. Angel says much of the album reflects on challenging times and how she found the impetus to dive inward. Her songwriting process involves cranking out the melody first, and then the lyrics come out of a stream of consciousness. Though she cautions, "I don't sit down and say I'm going to write about a specific thing. It's more vibrational."
She admits the vibrations that planted the seeds for the song "I Need Love" weirded her out.
"While I was writing that song, I felt I was channeling something that wasn't my story," Angel explains. "I live right next to Surfside, where the building collapsed. It felt like that song channeled what was going on there, even though I wrote it before. There's lines like, 'Tomorrow I'll be on the sinking train' and 'Wherever the land meets the water.' I don't mean to disrespect the families of people who died, but I felt there were weird connections."
That song and all the others from her debut will be heard at the album release party at the Anderson on Saturday, October 7.
"I'm playing the album in full. I was on a solo tour for months, so I'm really excited to play the songs with a band," she says. "The night's going to be a good representation of the record."
After that show, Angel plans to spend much of the remainder of 2022 on the road.
"I'm going to New York and will make my way back. I'm going to hang in Asheville and play in Nashville. So I'll definitely be on the road until December," Angel says. "But I'm writing more songs now, so I'm hoping to make another record when I get back."
Rachel Angel.With Nick County and Daniel Milewski. 9 p.m., Saturday, October 8, at the Anderson, 709 NE 79th St., Miami; 786-401-6330; theandersonmiami.com. Tickets cost $15 via eventbrite.com.
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