Rachel Garlin is a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter, currently working on her sixth album at Fantasy Records with producer Julie Wolf.
In between her Berkeley childhood and her current life in San Francisco, Garlin lived in NYC while touring and headlining at nationally recognized venues such as Club Passim, The Bitter End, and The Freight and Salvage.
Garlin grew up in a folk-music-infused household in Berkeley, California. She spent as much time strumming Tracy Chapman tunes on her dad’s Gibson J-50 guitar as she did practicing her jump-shot with the State Championship Berkeley High basketball team. Passion for sports and singing went hand in hand as she went on to become a member of the Harvard hoops team while cutting her teeth at open mics in and around Cambridge.
Before becoming a full-time singer-songwriter, Garlin earned her teaching credential and taught at King Middle School where she spearheaded an after-school songwriting group that composed songs related to social justice. The combination of social justice work and singer-songwriter-ing continued as Garlin linked up with producer Lisa Zeiler (from Rebecca Riots) and released two albums, with songs that gained her recognition on the Telluride Troubadour stage and won her first place in the Newport Folk Festival’s Talent Search.
Garlin recorded her third album during two live shows at the historic Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Bassist Jon Evans (Tori Amos, Sarah McLaughlin) and keys-player Julie Wolf (ani difranco, Indigo Girls) joined the effort and became lifelong collaborators. During this time, Garlin’s momentum on the road allowed her to tour full time, but she continued to work with young people along the way. She taught social-justice-oriented songwriting workshops at the Kerrville Folk Festival, at the Dublin women’s prison, in public schools in NYC, and later at Live Oak School in San Francisco.
Garlin’s April 2015 release, Wink at July, continues in the folk-rock storytelling vein that brought her accolades from Performing Songwriter Magazine. Media fans include Curve Magazine (“storytelling at its best” ) and Diffuser Magazine (“an impressive catalogue of unforgettable stories.”) Garlin’s songs have aired on Click and Clack’s Car Talk, NPR’s Democracy Now, and radio stations throughout the country. Her live performances bring together a natural stage presence and the same folk, rock, and roots flavors that season her recordings.
LIVE SHOW REVIEWS
Excerpts from a review of a live show at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA
“Rachel Garlin’s performance was charming, and she was able to create sharp images through her wonderful storytelling. Her beautiful tonal quality and simple melodies captured the heart and mind. She has polish and finesse, as well as a sweetness to the music. It was an enjoyable evening of anecdotes, music and entertainment.”
–Audrey Elliot, Musical Discoveries
Excerpts from a review of a live show at Room Five in Los Angeles
“What’s most notable about Garlin’s lyricism is that she doesn’t tend to write about herself; she’s more interested in the stories of others . . . simple isn’t a bad thing as she lets the stories in her lyrics be the star of the performance . . . Stripped down with only an acoustic guitar, there is nothing for the singer to hide behind, which helps prove her talent.”
“Rachel Garlin is more than just a singer; she’s a storyteller with an infectious radiance about her that can enthrall an audience. She is clearly a musician performing without an agenda, and just a love of music.”
–Victoria Patneaude, Music Connection Magazine
“Garlin has a folk slant with poetic tales mixed with tonal ballads; it’s a creative and fun album . . . storytelling at its best”
–Curve Magazine, Jessica Liley
“Unforgettable stories, intricate musical arrangements and beautiful vocals”
–Diffuser Magazine, Chuck Armstrong
–Exclusive Magazine, Anne Carlini
“Garlin creates character-driven songs that have a voice of their own.”
–Celebrity Café, Chelsea Lewis
“Twelve songs which almost read like a book of short stories; truly, an art form revisited. Writing songs about poets and graffiti artists may be alien to some, but here, Garlin demonstrates her word skills.”
–Pop Dose, Rob Ross
“Garlin is, in a sense, a visual artist in her own right, using effortless vocals and clear enunciation to bring her colorful lyrics to life.”
–Music News, Janet Goodman
“Holding it together is a metaphor/For someone trying not to fall apart/Like the bellows of a loosely hung accordion/That move against a tightly pleated heart” sings San Francisco singer/songwriter Rachel Garlin. It’s typical of her conversational-poetry style of writing and her observant eye for detail; Garlin’s songs comfort and sometimes dazzle the listener with words and her easy-to-take-in, Shawn Colvin-inspired, mostly acoustic musical vibe.”
–Music News, Janet Goodman
“Outgoing and dedicated to inspiring in others the same passion for the power of words that she holds dear.”
–East Bay Express, Larry Kelp
“Tracks that are warm and sweet–sonic cornbread drizzled with honey, unpretentious and yet delectable.”
–Boston Edge, Killian Melloy