On her self-titled EP released earlier in January, Rachel Bradshaw took a unique approach that most young singer/songwriters wouldn’t consider. “I was like, ‘I want to write anything that won’t go to radio,” she laughs. “I know that sounds silly. I just wanted cool music. I love Lana Del Rey, I love Coldplay, I love Patty Griffin. I just want stuff that sounds good. I wanted it very echoey and vibey, just a chill track where if you have people over, you could have it in the background. It was not meant for any popularity.”
Bradshaw achieved the vibe she wanted, but the popularity came anyway, as the EP immediately made its way up the charts. Maybe she went into the project better-known as the daughter of football legend Terry Bradshaw and one of the stars of the E! reality show The Bradshaw Bunch. But the six songs on this release signal a talent who doesn’t need any famous connections to make a major impact as a musician.
The subtle, atmospheric vibes of the original songs on Rachel Bradshaw don’t exactly jibe with her association with country music, which is fine with her. “We’re from Texas and it’s all Southern and horses and all,” she says of fans’ preconceived notions about her music. “But I think when people actually clicked on it and bought it because of the TV show, or you just like me or follow me on social media or whatever, I think they were like ‘What the hell is this?’ I think people were very surprised that, hey, I actually can sing and I actually do write music. I’m just doing this because I really enjoy it. It’s my passion. I was very surprised to see the algorithm of people that were buying it. It’s true music fans, which is really cool.”
Bradshaw attributes the introspective feel of the music to the fact that she eschewed any co-writes, instead penning these songs while she was secluded during the early stages of the pandemic. “I write at night time because it’s dark and I feel like the world has kind of stopped, so I can be really creative. When it’s dark, you kind of get in all of your feels. I would take my mind to very different spots whenever I was in that quiet space. Some nights were really depressing and really sad. I was writing during the pandemic. It was such a sad time. When you’re single and really alone, it can get pretty deep.”
After moody slow-burn originals like “Wild Horse” and “Dear,” the closing track, a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You,” sung as a duet with Jamey Johnson, feels right at home. “That song literally just rode with me my entire life and I have always wanted to record it,” Bradshaw says of the choice of covers. “When I was doing this I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to cut that and I’m going to have one of my dearest friends sing on it with me.’ In my mind, Jamey is such a legend. He’s so cool. He’s so talented. His voice was so amazing. I told my producer Leland (Grant) I want it to be haunting and gut-wrenching and echoey, and I want to cry when I listen to it. I think we had like two instruments on it. It’s super-vibey. I love that song.”
Now that she has a taste for the independence of this project, don’t expect Bradshaw to deviate from it on future releases. “I’ve released music before and I’ve been on record labels and stuff and I didn’t have any confidence,” she explains “You would think you do because you got to this space, but you don’t even know what you are. You’re told what you look like, how to sound, what to post on social media.’ And it’s like F’ all of that. It (the pandemic) gave me that time to reflect and think who am I and what do I want to say to the world. Even if one person hears it, what’s that going to mean to them and to myself? I was writing last night by myself and I’ve opened up this space in my soul that I didn’t know that I had, that’s confident and eerie and beautiful. I don’t think I ever would have done that before.”