On Saturday, Sept. 22, singer-songwriter Rachel Joy Pletts played an acoustic set at Brasserie Brightwell, a French bistro in Easton, Maryland. Pletts performed a quick sound check around 8 p.m. while tuning her guitar and jokingly asking the audience if she sounded shrill, the first of the many interactions from the artist throughout the show.
Pletts played her set on the patio outside, and while the setting was more than fitting frequent traffic often would drown out the music. Luckily her amplifier remedied this problem preventing the entire show from being lost to ambient noise.
Pletts started with a set on the piano, playing an original song titled, “Every Little Place I Go.” Frequent interaction with the crowd was well received and created a friendly atmosphere that made the audience feel right at home. Pletts proudly noted that she is a folk musician, and that this was her second time playing this venue.
Although Pletts proclaims herself to be a folk musician, her arrangements and talkative nature gave her performance a more singer/songwriter feel. After playing another original composition, “With You When You Leave,” she plugged that she was raising money for her new album. To date she has released only one album, but announced that her new second album is to be titled “Mercy Was a Hard Hard Year.”
She shared that people who were affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma directly influenced the new album, and shared her perceived connection with their heartbreak. In fact, those who live in Florida or Houston can get a download of the album for free. Pletts made it abundantly clear how much she values her fans.
Afterwards, she played a cover of the song “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell, followed by two original compositions, “Burn Me Down” and “Good Faith.” Once she finished performing these two songs, she picked up an acoustic guitar and told the audience about a Kickstarter fund (with a goal of $15,000) for the release of her new album.
Following the plug of her album, she debuted a song “Catarina,” from her new album. Her interactions with the audience felt both natural and intimate. One such interaction included sharing a story about how her friend from Texas told her that they learned how to dance in gym class there. She humorously commented that she “was born in the wrong state.”
This information led into two more original compositions, “Take Me Dancing” and “Buy the Sea,” which tells a story about a little girl who wants to buy the sea for two pennies. “The Good Son,” another original tune, contained heavy Simon and Garfunkel influence.
Following this set, she returned to the piano with an almost unrecognizable cover of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. “I love it when songs are performed in an entirely different genre than which they originated,” she stated to the audience. After performing another original song, “Monster” and a show stopping cover of “Say Something” by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera, she took a break.
The musical subjects that Pletts uses as focal points for her art are both personal and universal, making her relatable to others. While Pletts occasionally has a backing band, they did not accompany her during this performance. The highlights of the night were “The Good Son” and her refreshing cover of “The Middle,” both of which capture the zenith of her vocal range and playing abilities.
Originally from New York state, Pletts moved to New York City in hopes of becoming a singer/songwriter musician. After releasing her first EP, she moved to Annapolis. Earlier this year, she recorded her first album. She currently resides in a five hundred square-foot house in Preston, Maryland.
She cited her influences as Adele, Janis Joplin, Grace Potter, Pink and Nora Jones. Her guitar songs as a whole were more memorable than her piano songs and an acoustic performance from Pletts is a pleasant reminder of how intimate and personal concerts can be at a smaller venue. With a down to earth personality and strong vocals, Pletts definitely has the potential to make it big.