Rachel Rivero - California
Country: Big Valley
Review By: George
Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
Rachel Rivero has released, (on her own label, Gitana Music) an
extended play of five self-written tunes. For this single mom of
five, the EP is the reward of years of effort and ambition.
Born in San Francisco, only to
live in Venezuela for a few childhood years before returning,
Rivero started her fascination with words early. We learn from her
website, as a child she’d write poetry. That poetry soon was
turned into songs. And her songwriting has been an ongoing passion
that has seen her claim early praise from critics and fans
regarding her Big Valley release.
When asked to describe her voice
and music, the talented singer and composer modestly tells us the
music is lyrically rich and California style country music,
rippling towards Americana, Latina, Rock and Blues. It’s a
broad-brush stroke, but one that covers the versatile range of a
performer with a diversity that claims varied influences.
The album opens with “Big
Valley”. More a travelogue than a toe tapper, the song extols
the virtues and color of living in place where cows are common
place and kids still play barefoot.
On an album more Faith than
Gretchen, Rivero, in true country style, wears her Hispanic heart
on her sleeve. “Fine Sands”, a moody and melodic heartache, is
a telling tune of uneasy love, while “I Loved You How” carries
a similar message across a tune that comes flavored with a part
spoken and part sung message that reveals metaphorically:
“Spanish moss won’t leave a tree where it has clung for life,
the same as waves never cease crashing…”
As a songwriter Rivero can carry
the load, but it’s in her vocal style she comes alive. Confident
with the words she’s written, she can pound the message home,
only to soften the sentiment when it’s needed. Rivero has been
enjoying the neon glow of club performances since 1990, and across
this mini album she shows the lessons learned.
The breakout hope, “Kisses Day
And Night”, is a radio single doing the rounds to some pocketed
acceptance. With its modern liberated theme of women’s’
independence, where the heroine tells she doesn’t want a man for
fathering children or a guy to be the wedded beau, rather, she
just wants the trappings of romance – kisses in the day and the
night. Given the reluctance of commitment and failing and falling
marriages, the song could claim a wide and ready audience. (Tongue
firmly in cheek).
The album rounds and winds down,
beautifully, with “Sweet Lovin’ Man”. The fiddle-licked tune
is a slow winding search for a man, part dream and part reality, a
Friday night guy trekked after in high heels and a responsive
As a debut, this is a warming
entrée to the talents of Rachel Rivero. The lady can write, sing
and perform, all with a claiming passion that is sure to grab
fans; if radio is kind.