Songwriter Arum Rae is well-versed in American music, able to tear through vintage rock, blues, jazz, and even a few choice covers of JJ Cale, Hank Williams, and others.
The singer’s rustic, compelling debut album Too Young to Sing the Blues taps into a similar vein and should find fans among those who love Dylan and Waits, as well as California chanteuse Eleni Mandell. A track like “I Don’t Have a Heart” slinks through a lament of the love, while “I Fell On a Dime” is all atmospheric, smoky simplicity, and “Lookin’ For Love” suggests many a classic ’50s rocker.
The Berklee-educated Rae, whose full name is Arum Rae Valkonen, credits co-producer Steve West with giving the songs a more esoteric edge, working in swampy embellishments and arrangements that lend some of the numbers a timeless and slightly melancholic feel, though live performances are less moody.
“I write from the way I live,” says Rae. “Let the song write itself, which can be kind of frustrating. [Newer songs] have a bluegrass influence on the guitar, but with distortion, not so rootsy.”
Rae toured as a duo with Virginia drummer Bentley Rhodes, who played with roots-rock family of bands from Athens, Ga., like Bloodkin and Barbara Cue. After several weeks of gigging and busking solo around the Sunshine State, Rae headed back up along the seaboard, packed up all her stuff and relocated to Savannah.
“I am working on getting a band together,” she says. “Some pedal steel, back-up singers … something new. It’ll be a bit tough for that though, as I meet more people down here.” For now, she’s hitting the road solo around the region and returns for another show at Home Team BBQ, where she most recently performed on July 20.
Arum Rae performs at Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ (1205 Ashley River Rd., 225-RIBS) on Wed. Aug. 1. Showtime is around 10 p.m. No cover. Check out www.arumrae.com and
www.hometeambbq.com for more.
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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.