Strings, Rachel Zylstra's first release in four years, shares part of its mission statement up front. Zylstra's piano-based music has always been soulful and surprisingly delicate, and the addition of a string section makes her songs even more captivating. It also helps that there's a sort of plain-spoken beauty about her lyrics. In her performance at Calvin, which brings Rachel back to her alma mater, she will be complimented with members of the Calvin Orchestra.
Zylstra released her debut album, Most Of It Is True, in 2005. She followed that up with Before You Could Decide in 2008. She started the Advice Music blog two years later; here, she responded to readers' dilemmas in song form, and the result was — in my opinion — pretty amazing.
Zylstra has also toured around the country to support of her music, opening for folks like David Bazan, Over the Rhine, and Derek Webb. Her live shows are inviting, and Zylstra's playful demeanor helps draw the audience into the story she's weaving with her voice and keyboard.
- Jason Panella