Her primary musical goal early in her writing career was "to make the next song different" from anything she'd previously written. Classically trained on piano and "smoky, sweet and verbose (in the best ways)" (Scoutmob), Rachel writes songs rich in narrative while her voice, described as "wood-warm, unwavering" (No Depression), weaves "luminous cadence [and] sweet melancholy" (Revista AntrópikA) throughout her music.
Making an early-20s move from the grievous and blissful Midwest to the wilds of New York City, the lanky, wordy Grand Rapids MI native developed a following playing small cozy clubs on NYC's Lower East Side, most notably the acclaimed Rockwood Music Hall. Over the next years, she independently released three albums, toured regionally, and opened for noted American indie acts including David Bazan, Over the Rhine, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and Jay Brannan. One time she even opened for Bono - in a manner of speaking.
With a frank lyrical style, Rachel's songs explore themes of longing, doubt, faith, purpose and finding one's place. In 2012, she found musical companions in this plaintive storytelling endeavor. Collaborating with bassist Russ Wedelich, an Eventide DSP engineer, and drummer Alex Paul, geneticist and songwriter in his own right, the three began performing Rachel's songs as a power-pop trio, The Tacit Turn, and bringing new energy and urgency to live performances. In April 2015, at Let ‘Em In Music in Brooklyn, the band captured these arrangements with the sound engineering expertise of Justin Milner (Strings) and Dave Brenneman (Before You Could Decide). Blending pop-standard elements, ambient Radiohead-esque electronic effects and Americana-tinged harmonies to heady, lush, and at times dark effect, the album, titled for the band, was released in October 2015 as Rachel Zylstra's 4th studio album, with the incredible support of numerous Kickstarting fans and listeners.
May of 2015, Rachel uprooted from a decade of New York City permanence to enter into a season of full-time music and life on the road. Her travels currently take her criss-crossing the U.S., as well as making extended trips across the pond to Edinburgh, Scotland, an old city imbued with new sources of lyrical inspiration. This past August she played a series of concerts in her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut. She is presently writing material for a new album.
performing debut at Edinburgh Fringe, August 2016. photo credit David Simpson