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Rachel Lark gets real about growing up on latest EP

singer Rachel Lark
Maris Jones
Rachel Lark's latest EP, Warm By the Dumpster Fire, comes out October 27, 2023

In just five songs on her latest EP, Rachel Lark manages to cover the topics that span attachment issues, the pros and cons of polyamorous relationships, the question of motherhood, and the fact that despite all these big questions you still have to do the dishes even if it feels like the world is ablaze. “I will say this is definitely my most vulnerable EP,” she says, calling from the airport in New York. “It's about getting older in a time where I think thinking about the future is really difficult on a collective level. So it's called Warm by the Dumpster Fire.” The EP comes out on October 27, and Lark will be performing a homecoming show at the New Parish in Oakland on Friday, September 29, 2023.

Warm by the Dumpster Fire is a brief, potent pill and like the inner monologue of every anxious millennial who has grown up to understand that the world isn’t exactly what they thought it was. Growing up as a kid who was obsessed with the storytelling in musical theatre styles of Rogers and Hammerstein as well as the metaphorical lyricism of Fiona Apple and Joni Mitchell, Rachel’s writing is frank yet flecked with wry humor alongside a real sensitivity. “What those two styles share is, truth. Like emotional truth - really trying to get at something that was a very shared and hard-to-articulate human experience.”

After You Say Sorry

On lead single “After You Say You’re Sorry,” which began as a ballad and turned into a punk rock song, she roars sarcastically at a partner who sounds like they need to some inner emotional work. “It got way less bitter and more funny when I turned it into a punk rock song,” Rachel says. She considers her songwriting as problem-solving and research into love and the human experience, and each song comes out with its own sound. So, while the EP kicks off with a break-up, belt-out rock track, it’s unbound by genre. There’s a soft and vulnerable turn on “Nothing to Chase,” where she sings “give me something to be hopeful for/and I’ll give you nine months of my body,” in a dilemma about choosing motherhood at a time when American society feels both structurally and morally unsupportive of mothers. And there’s a touch of country, like Dolly Parton if she sang about having multiple partners, on “Polyamory Blues,” which has a humorous lament about the complicated logistics of poly relationships to cover for the realization of how “hard it is to just have the capacity to love, period,” Rachel says.

“I think of my wheelhouse as relationships, feminism, sexuality, etc.,” she explains. “I think if I really get down to it, the question that I keep on trying to look at and figure out is: to what extent do relationships help or hinder self-actualization? And how the f*** do you do it? I think it's all very confusing and endlessly fascinating.”

This continuous study of love and the human condition in all its forms and formulas makes a journey out of the EP, taking you down a bunch of roads for your ears but all leading to the same place – there’s a lot going on, and you still have to do the dishes.

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