Rachel Allyn is an Americana singer/songwriter making a name for herself through her powerful and expressive vocals, skilled songwriting, and engaging live performances. Her first two releases, Late Nights And Early Mornings and Do It Yourself, saw song placements in national television shows on CMT, the National Geographic Channel, and the Discovery Channel.
Typically performing over 100 shows per year, she has opened for Kenny Rogers, Brett Eldredge, Sara Evans, Trace Adkins, Lonestar, Travis Tritt, Randy Houser, and Tyler Farr, among others. Allyn graduated with honors from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and is now based in her home state of New Jersey.
Rachel Allyn’s music career began in the dive bars of New Jersey, where her parents brought her to sing in karaoke contests (at her insistence) beginning at the age of ten. The artists that shaped her early life were varied, to say the least; the Beatles, Shania Twain, Elvis Costello, and even Jane’s Addiction were staples of her upbringing. At eleven years old, after hearing of Belmont University in a CMT feature chronicling Lee Ann Womack’s career, Allyn decided she would move to Nashville after she turned eighteen. She did just that. After graduating with honors from the iconic Music City School, Allyn made her way onto big stages to open for the likes of Kenny Rogers.
Rogers enjoyed her performance so much that he requested Rachel as his opening act in 2013, 2014, and 2015. It was while she was logging countless hours in front of audiences (and countless miles on her Jeep) that Allyn was able to place her music in the aforementioned television shows such as CMT, the National Geographic Channel, and the Discovery Channel.
I had covered Rachel for her Do It Yourself release back in 2013. I found Rachel to be cut from the same cloth as many traditional singer-songwriters that went on to become household names. Allyn’s roots soak in the timeless tradition of country music, but her overall body of work branches far into the world of rock and roll as she embraces the time-honored style of organic songwriting. Rachel quotes the simple but eloquent words of John Lennon when describing where she wants to go with her songwriting process. “You just write what you feel, even if you don’t know where it will take you.”
Rachel Allyn is back with a brand new attitude and a CD of songs to match with Next Year’s Girl. If you ask Rachel about this record and where she is in the world today she would tell you, “Next Year’s Girl is being released a little more than three years after my last album Do It Yourself came out, and so much has happened in those years,” Allyn reports. “I have faced down my voice problems, I fell in love, I became financially independent, I got engaged, and I have become more interested in politics and the world around me. All of this has given me a new perspective on life and on music and what it all means to me.”
Next Year’s Girl is a cohesive collection of finely crafted and personally reflective yet universally relatable songs. Drawing on influences ranging from the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello to Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, Allyn combines her lyrics with rock and roll guitars, bluesy B3, and traditional country pedal steel to create a story and sound all her own. Delicately straddling the line between vintage and modern, and timeless and boundary-pushing, Next Year’s Girl is Allyn’s most artistically realized work to date.
Produced by ace guitarist and Allyn songwriting partner Warren Hibbert, Next Year’s Girl also boasts a veritable “who’s who” of musical guests and band members. Individuals that contributed to the record are folks such as Chris Golinski on drums, Shawn Hendricks on bass, Warren Hibbert on guitar, Chris Burns acoustic guitar, Larry Franklin on fiddle, John Ginty on piano and B3, Pat Severs on pedal steel and mandolin, and Alan Bowers on percussion. Chris Burns also helped out with backing vocals alongside Allyn.
Recorded at several studios, Next Year’s Girl still has a singular sound when it comes to production and along with the engineers that ran the board, everyone really did their homework for this project.
Some of the songs that caught my ear and were my favorite standouts are listed below.
“Next Year’s Girl” starts things off with a backwoods flavored bang. Allyn’s vocals are strong and alluring, bringing back memories of singers such as Natalie Portman and Sarah Evans. Guitars crank Nashville-flavored smoke while John Ginty’s B3 work lays gold-tinted icing all over the back. Pat Severs’ mandolin and Dobro work is a perfect complementary sound to the Allyn/Hibbert composition as is Hibbert’s six-string work.
Another standout track is “Second Chances.” Rachel Allyn has a solid voice. With the ability to roam the entire range of a great singer, she moves from lows to ultra-highs with the greatest of ease. Pat Severs’ pedal steel work adds genuine Tennessee vibe to this countrified ballad. Lyrically speaking, Allyn spins the tale of the one who was before the one she has now. She covers the heartache and disappointment of what could have been but is now long gone.
“Going Through The Motions” is another outstanding composition written by Allyn and Hibbert. If you dig early Shania Twain style country, you’re gonna love this song. John Ginty’s B3 work is impeccable as is the banjo work of Mike Alexander. The rest of the band kick in to do their collective parts and the song truly shines. Nicole Green works well on backing vocals alongside Allyn as she does her thing.
Rachel ends the disc with a Stephen Stills song we all know called “For What It’s Worth.” John Ginty’s B3 takes the lead on this one as Severs, Burns and Hibbert blaze a path down guitar heaven lane. Props go out to rhythm section Alan Bowers, Chris Golinski, and Shawn Hendricks throughout. Allyn delivers this classic in her own unique and arabesque manner and it’s an all-out winner.
Rachel Allyn continues to make great strides as a songwriter and singer and her band of companions add the crucial magic needed for an undertaking such as this and it’s performed in just the right way. I always look forward to hearing what Allyn has up her sleeve and Next Year’s Girl didn’t disappoint.
To hear more about Next Year’s Girl and to find out where you can see the band live, head over to rachelallyn.com.