Rachel Goswell Waves Are Universal

After Mojave 3’s singer and songwriter Neil Halstead released his solo album Sleeping on Roads last year, it would seem a daunting task for band-mate Rachel Goswell to do the same. Thankfully, this is no act of rivalry. Goswell has been making music with Halstead for almost 15 years now, dating back to their time together in Slowdive, who still maintain an obsessive fan base to this day. The volume has been turned way down since those days, and this debut finds Goswell even closer to her folk influences than her work with Mojave 3. Gone are the pedal steel guitar and the reverb, leaving only her soft, natural voice to shine through. The album glides between gentle acoustic ballads like "Plucked” and "Shoulder the Blame” through to more commanding tracks like "Beautiful Feeling” and the lovely "Save Yourself.” Other musicians who joined Goswell in the recording process included writing partner Joe Light, and producer David Naughton, who appear throughout the album. Mother Nature herself contributes some sonic ambience as well, making Waves Are Universal a fitting title indeed. Goswell has an instinctive talent for songwriting — the only surprise is that it has taken her this long to realise it.

Why have you chosen to do a solo album now? I actually started writing about four years ago when I came out of my marriage. That started me writing because I found myself — for the first time in years — on my own. I spent a couple years writing loads of songs, and it all came together. Throughout Slowdive and most of Mojave 3, I’ve just not felt the urge to write at all — it hasn’t been a part of me. I think because of my personal life, everything just came pouring out of me.

Your album has a much more natural sound — and no pedal steel guitar. Because of all the other things I’ve done musically over the years, I wanted it to be different. I didn’t want to use effects. I wanted it to be natural, and use natural ambience. The pedal steel is a wonderful instrument — I could have easily had somebody come in and slap pedal steel all over it, but what’s the point? There was a conscious part of me that wanted to keep it away from Mojave 3 as much as possible.

Have you always been attracted to acoustic music? I grew up listening to folk music anyway. The first concert I ever saw was Gordon Lightfoot. My dad taught me how to play the guitar when I was seven. That influence has always been there. I think this is actually the stuff that I love. This is more about my roots. Siouxie Sioux was the lady who inspired me to sing, but I like my Joni Mitchell too. (4AD)