You know the feeling of when a good time unexpectedly turns into a great time? When you have the best conversations about things you didn't even know you were dying to talk about? That's what listening to Abbi Rajasekhar's music is like. Over the years she has developed a uniquely beautiful vocal style that is equal parts powerful and delicate and a songwriting and story telling skill that tugs at your soul, but at the heart of Abbi's music is an outstretched hand. Her goal in it all is to build a relationship with you as you listen.
Abbi put out her first album, Anywhere, in 2004. She a senior in high school. Anywhere, was as lovely, sweet, and naive as any record written by a lonely, idealistic high school aged girl should be. She moved from her small hometown in Northern Michigan, to Chicago at 18. The tumult and excitement of going to college and living in a huge city, and of growing up enough to experience a few heart breaks and to have a few teenage epiphanies, led to her sophomore album release, Make Sure, in 2007. The best thing about the record Make Sure was the collaborating that made the project come to life. Everyone involved was a student, still in the process of learning the skills they one day wanted to master. Over the next several years Abbi spent most of her time on small strange tours around the Midwest. She wasn't old enough to play in bars, but traveled from town to town playing in cafes, garages, barns and church basements opening for local hardcore and metal. These were the kind of shows where kids showed up to go nuts. They wanted scream and head-bang and get a black eye in the pit so that they'd have a good story to tell… they did not come to the show to see an acoustic guitar… they did not come to the show to hear a girl sing. Those first few tours were a refining fire, painfully burning away at the insecurities Abbi had about her music and about herself as a performer. But through these long nights, Abbi learned that in order to get people to listen to her, all she had to do was tell the truth. She learned to be her most honest self while on stage and to keep giving and giving to the audience until they couldn't help but start feeling like she was family. That's when the folks at her shows embraced her and that's when she became totally addicted to the road and to singing for strangers who would soon become friends.
From 2010-2012 Abbi discovered the best kept secret in indie rock: house show touring. Home shows can be so much sweeter than big venue shows for smaller bands on long tours. So many house shows during these years shine out like stars in the dark as being some of the happiest nights of music in her life. Fans instantly become friends on nights like these when they gather in a home and have a real, tangible experience of music with the musician. These shows lead to Abbi's recording her first EP, The Living Room, in 2011. The Living Room was designed to sound like a house show and really captures the charm of those wonderful evenings with songs like "Burn", "The Good Ones", and "Spending and Saving" causing the chatter and buzzing of crowds across the country to fade to silence as they become wrapped up in the passion of her heartfelt story telling ballads and the intimacy of her performance.
Right on the tail of releasing The Living Room, Abbi got straight back into the studio in 2011 to record The Young Adult. The Young Adult is a conceptual piece revolving around themes of growing up, having lots of passion but no means to do anything about it, and looking for hope wherever it can be found, basically, all of the things concerning the folks who talk to her at shows while she’s on tour. It seems no matter what town she went to, the concerns of all these young adults were the same: they couldn't see the right path or what their next step in life was, and it was driving them crazy. She wrote The Young Adult, to console the lonely and frustrated, to let them let them know they are not alone and that they are going to be ok. With songs like "Over and Over", "Days Get in the Way", and "Drink Alone" to empathize, and "Made Me Grow", "We Got A Lot", and "The Key" to encourage, the amazing responses she has gotten from kids at shows and from emails she has received proves The Young Adult seems to have done just that.
The Young Adult kept Abbi busy on tour for the next year and a half, but late in 2012 inspiration hit like a bolt from the blue- she could barely write out the lyrics fast enough as they came to her. At the end of that weekend of binge writing she had an album scribbled out in her notebooks that she never would have anticipated. What she ended up with was a set of story songs about the life of King David from the Old Testament of the Bible. His story is better than fiction, his poetry is as moving now as it was when he first wrote it ages ago. The album, David, released in July 2013, tells the story of a real man who was passionate and fragile and flawed. It tries to see him as a man who is remembered as a legendary hero, not because he was perfect, but because his God was faithful to him in the midst of his brokenness. The stories on of David are riveting, and the soundscape of the record is unlike anything Abbi has ever conjured up before. It entrenches the listener into the world of David's mind. The same melodic themes sung through different voicings echo through each song, and an intensity of brooding emotion facilitates empathizing with David more than admiring him. Everything about this new album David speaks of a ripening of understanding and technique in Abbi's skills as a songwriter, a composer, and a story-teller.
As years go by and she grows as an artist and as a person, one undeniable quality of any of Abbi's performances is the joy and gratitude bursting out of her as she sings. She is so thankful for every opportunity to sing and for every new person she gets to meet through music, who, as they watch her performance, they are watching her slowly fall in love with everyone in the room.