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by Taylor Sutton
Published in the December 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine
It’s almost impossible to categorize Meghan Yates & The Reverie Machine, as their sophomore album, The Brightest Night, seems to transcend genre.
Meghan Yates’ solo career got its start in 2002 in Portland, Maine. She was walking down the street, humming, when the owner of a local club ran out, grabbed her by the arm, and asked her to sing right then and there. Although she was unprepared, Yates sang an a’capella song she had finished writing earlier in the day. About a month later she performed a 30-minute set of acapella songs, and picked up the guitar soon after.
Yates recorded a few solo albums before meeting her husband and bassist, Mordechai Rosenblatt. Together they formed The Reverie Machine in 2009 and released their debut album, Not By Blood in 2012. They have collaborated with many different musicians in order to produce the unique and full sound they do. Along with Yates and Rosenblatt, The Brightest Night features Elliot Heeschen on drums and percussion; Peter Himmer on vibraphone, piano, organ and synth; Thomas Deakin on alto sax; Seth Mullendore on baritone sax; Sarah Hallie Richardson: backing vocals; and Nathaniel Johnson on synth.
To say Meghan Yates has a beautiful voice would be an understatement. It’s too powerful to just simply be beautiful. There’s a depth and darkness in her voice that is so unique. Layer that on top of jazz-infected bass, percussion, and sax and you’re in for an experience that is a bit chaotic and psychedelic at times (in the absolute best way), but also incredibly deep and soulful.
The Brightest Night is a diverse and all-encompassing album, from the up-tempo jazz feel “Waking Dreams” to the soft but driving build up to a powerful climax of sound in “Everyone Deserves Love.” It’s music for the senses. It’s big, in the macro sense that it’s about the spectrum of humanity and what it means to exist. At the same time, it’s incredibly personal in its ability to speak to individuals and force them to look inside themselves. As Sam Pfeifle said in his review of their first album, “… This is music taken straight from your very marrow …”
The band released its debut record, 'Not By Blood,' in October.
by Aimsel Ponti
Published November 8th, 2012 in Portland Press Herald
The Reverie Machine is a Portland-based band led by vocalist and ordained minister Meghan Yates, who says that her spiritual life greatly informs how she creates. Her band released its debut record “Not By Blood,” in October. The album is home to 11 lyrically rich and aurally complex tunes, anchored by Yates’ voice that rises up from an infinite abyss of ancient wisdom. Find the band online at reveriemachine.com *(meghanyatesandthereveriemachine.com), on Facebook and on Spotify, and purchase “Not By Blood” at Bandcamp and Amazon.
The Reverie Machine formed in 2010, and its core members are Yates on vocals, guitar and tape loops; her husband, Mordechai Rosenblatt, on bass, guitars, piano and vocals; and Elliot Heeschen on drums, percussion, organs and vocals. GO caught up with Yates for a virtual cup of tea and some scintillating chat.
Why the name The Reverie Machine?
The name came through a process of looking at what each of us brought to the project. I am both full of reverie and wonderment and a song-making machine. My band truly reflects these qualities too. We work really hard to make good music, and we love what we do.
Why is the album called “Not By Blood?”
The name came from the track “Boy with a Story,” and the full lyric is, “I’m related not by blood, but by water to the body of these reflections ” The album deals directly with my severe and unusual childhood, and what has brought me joy amidst much turmoil and loss. The title refers to being related to a larger family, which includes my blood relations yet honors all of the folks who have contributed to my well-being and success.
Do you have a favorite song on the record? If so, which one and why?
I have to say that “Lady of the Sea” does it for me. The way the textures were handled and the production serve the song in a way that gives me chills. I am also most attached to the content, which touches on the death of my father, who was a fisherman and who ultimately was most in love with the ocean.
I also love the hope “Ran Hard” provides. The song feels like a homecoming — and I love the way (trumpet player) Mark Tipton’s part interplays with my vocals at the end. Recording that song opened me up to a whole new way of singing.
What’s your songwriting process like? What inspires and informs it?
My songwriting process is possibly the most honest display of how I function from moment to moment. I gather impressions and charged words and story-lines, and after it all collects and builds enough pressure, I eventually sit down and wait for the music to come through. I am most concerned with naming the more subtle aspects of the human experience, and I often achieve this through being honest about my own experiences.
At some point, it gets to be bigger than one person, and I love that about music. There’s something that is conveyed beyond the words, yet if you rest just on what is said, you can still be satisfied.
When did you start singing?
I have always been singing. I was a shy and awkward kid who didn’t have any friends — so I read and I sang. I began mimicking great singers like Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison and Julie Andrews. Then I moved into a serious love affair with jazz. Then I found Tori Amos and Bjork, and that got mixed up with Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading.
I eventually began writing my own songs. I think I started in fifth grade. I wrote mostly a capella until 2004, when I picked up the guitar. My father was a great blues player; self-taught and brilliant. He was always pressuring me to pick the guitar up, and I just couldn’t see myself playing it. I liked to mess around with the piano, mostly. I have dabbled with other instruments, but nothing called out to me except singing.
When I finally picked up the guitar, I fell in love with it. It felt natural, and I was able to write much more complex music and felt more confident as a performer with accompaniment. It’s scary to always sing a capella. Everything is exposed and raw. I love that, though. I love relying on something that I always have with me.
What’s next for the band?
We are working on getting the next body of work ready for recording. The sound is a bit different — more vocal, simple and chant-like. We are working towards having another release sometime next summer/fall.
Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:
by Sam Pfeifle
Published January 16th 2013 in Portland Phoenix
'Not By Blood' is a CD worth digging into and exploring.
By KRISTIN DiCARA-McCLELLAN
Published in Portland Press Herald December 5th, 2012
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