Rachel Efron is a spell caster — on herself, on her audience and on the folks who spin her hypnotic debut, “4AM.” Her gorgeous arrangements are easy to get lost in, but it doesn’t seem to satisfy Efron, who has worked hardest on doing the little things better since the album dropped.

Will the follow-up ratchet it up a notch, and burst with Rufus Wainwright bombast? On the contrary, it’s back to basics for the humble chanteuse. The stakes are higher, the game is bigger, and the rush is faster when it’s just you and your songs, no help and no explanations.

Instead of going for broke, Efron is channeling her growing musical force through a narrower passageway. Maybe depending on others felt like settling. Maybe Efron had some dragons to slay in her own soul.

Whatever the reason, she’s bringing her intimate act from her Pacific life to her Maine roots, headlining One Longfellow Square on Saturday night. (Check out the May Day show at www.onelongfellowsquare .com or learn more about Efron at www.rachelefron.com.)

It’s already been a long road for the young songwriter, but she seems no worse for the wear.


What’s a day in the life of Rachel Efron?

When I wake up, the first thing I do is practice yoga. Mornings are pretty low key and solitary. I usually play piano and sing, and write in my journal. In the afternoons, I teach piano lessons. I have six students, both little kids and adults. It ranges from simple pieces to more complex classical and jazz projects. The evening can go any which way. If I have a show, I’m getting the equipment together, carrying it down three flights, going to sound check. I’m usually pretty wired after shows; I can’t sleep that well even after a long day.


How have you grown since “4AM?”

I think my newer songs are more direct now, both lyrically and musically. I counted; I’ve written nine songs since “4AM.” I’m almost ready to record again. The lyrics and music are bolder, I’d say, there’s a little bit more of a gospel element. I’m making a concerted effort to develop my upbeat songs. I’ve been doing more voice work than ever over the last couple months with my amazing coach, Raz Kennedy. He works me harder then any athletic coach I’ve ever had. 


What’s the worst part about being a pro musician?

It’s definitely the self-promotional aspect; all the time at the computer, making phone calls, all to do the creative thing I want to do. There’s a lot about the music industry that has nothing to do with good music. Publicists, booking agents, they all want something different from you. I do what I do because I love it; the promotional aspect comes with the territory.


What other elements have you considered adding to your sound?

Actually, I’m more interested in subtraction. I’m trying to strip away some of the more produced elements of the last record; the music that moves me the most is the work of an elemental songwriter. I will definitely still be playing with other musicians, but in a more understated way.


How does it feel when you come back home to Maine?

There’s a part of me that opens up when I go back. Performing in Maine is really scary, because it’s my home. A lot of my songs draw from imagery and experiences that I had there. It’s poignant to be in the place that those ideas came from.


What are you most excited about for the upcoming tour?

I haven’t done solo shows in quite a while. I’m excited to experience that again. I think a really amazing connection can occur between the performer and audience when the performance is just me. It’s definitely harder, you have to carry more of the musical and emotional weight of your work, there’s no one to be dynamic with. You have to master your own dynamics — in my case, the relationship of piano to voice.


Describe your favorite memory since the record came out.

I had a CD-release show at Yoshi’s in Oakland (Calif). It was special, because it was the exact personnel on the album — same cellist, same trumpet player, even my producer on backup guitar. We got to play the string arrangements from the album. It was really neat to perform live exactly what we had crafted in the studio.

Which American coast do you prefer and why?

My gut reaction is the East Coast, because I grew up there. It’s beautiful in a way that makes total sense to me. I like the approach to life that people have out there. I love the seasons. Right now, my life is on the West Coast, though. It’s a great home base for me as far as starting my music career.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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