Rachel Platten interned for a record label in Trinidad and found herself singing at a soca festival, then studied songwriting at the Berklee School of Music. Both experiences can be discerned on her album Be Here, which has some Caribbean rhythms supporting the carefully constructed pop arrangements of her appealing songs. Platten devotes the first half of the album to female self-empowerment, telling another woman (and, no doubt, herself) that "Nothing Ever Happens" when you stay in your room and don't get out there looking for the exciting aspects of life. This is a songwriter who has counted how far various places are from her door ("53 Steps"), but who needs to "walk into the great unknown." One aspect of the great unknown, of course, is relationships with Significant Others, and that's what occupies the songwriter's attention in the second half of the album, though she is characteristically both ingratiating and coy. In "You Don't Have to Go," she invites her paramour to stay the night, suggesting they may "go all the way," or they may not, depending on how things go, and even if they do, they can forget it in the morning. Clearly, the persona singing the songs to herself and her sisterhood has one foot in adventure, but another in safety. Women in similar straits may find the expression of that conundrum attractive, and all pop music fans will find the tunes supporting it engaging.
Be Here Review
by William Ruhlmann