Her Crooked Heart

To Love To Leave To Live

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To Love To Leave To Live Review

by Timothy Monger

The project of Minneapolis-based musician Rachel Ries, Her Crooked Heart delivers an elegantly rendered debut of intertwined narratives set amongst beautifully layered arrangements that incorporate lush chamber pop, jazz, and experimental folk. Culled from the personal tumult following her 2013 divorce, the material on To Love To Leave To Live leans heavily into Ries' emotional transformations both as a person and an artist. Leaving not only her marriage behind, but also a previous recording career under her own name, she inhabits this new endeavor with a crackling energy wrought from the sadness, excitement, anxiety, and other raw elements of her sea change. The confessional spirit of singer/songwriter forebears from Joni Mitchell to Aimee Mann informs the album's overall tone, and Ries' well-honed instincts as a pop craftswoman are spot-on, especially on melodic gems like "Enough," "Are You Good You Are," and the stunning "I Fell in Love." With co-producer Shane Leonard and an array of collaborators helping to color the palette, Her Crooked Heart presents a richly detailed world infused with a mix of vulnerability, wit, and self-awareness that thrills as often as it soothes. As a concept, the divorce/breakup album is a long-standing tradition in popular music, and with To Love To Leave To Live, Ries introduces a distinctive and deeply engaging volume into the canon.

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