Stopping short of labeling this a “concept album,” a dreaded term to some, there is nonetheless a theme running through Rachel Reinert’s debut effort at a full solo project. Into the Blue is essentially a musical autobiography of a young adult woman seeking to find where she fits into the world’s grand scheme, not just professionally but also on a personal level. The songs offer honest, personal glimpses of the gamut Reinert has run so far, from the stormy tide of relationships, her split from the band Gloriana, where she served as the lead female vocalist, to finding real love and contentment with who she is as an individual. This marks Reinert’s first full-length album since leaving Gloriana in early 2016.
What’s most striking about the collection is how candidly Reinert speaks of her various ups and downs. Reinert co-wrote all 11 cuts on the record, the majority with Melissa Fuller and Davis Naish. That particular team collaborates on the album’s opener, “Cool,” by Reinert’s account a true story of an early relationship gone wrong that ultimately resulted in the two exes becoming friends. “Never thought we’d get back to/The way we used to be when we were cool,” Reinert sums up in the song’s key line. “Cool,” released as a single in 2018, has a nice jazzy flow to it, and Reinert truly soars on the chorus, so it’s baffling that the tune didn’t receive more attention.
Reinert opens up in all her vulnerability on “Dark Star,” written about her feelings when she left the successful Gloriana to go solo. She confesses to the fears of being forgotten, even though she was in her twenties at the time of the split. It’s spilled out in the phrase, “I get afraid I’ll be remembered/Not for the fire, but the embers.” Surely, plenty of artists have struggled with that notion from time to time. But how many would actually admit it? It’s a standout line, both in its honesty and picturesque wordplay. On a similar note, “All We Have” delves into the aftermath of leaving the band, when down times evidently forced Reinert to sell her home and some of her possessions. Furthermore, people she thought she could count on were suddenly nowhere to be found when the money ran out. “How fast they changed when it went away,” she muses. She comes to realize that the only riches that matter are tied up in our personal worth as individuals. “All We Have” is deep and pretty insightful without sounding preachy or forced.
Reinert now appears to be in a good spot in life, happily married to the man who formerly played drums in Gloriana’s band. She chronicles their love story with “Secret,” which is to be taken literally as the two did not reveal their relationship right off the bat. “Nobody knows your clothes are hanging up in my closet,” Reinert sings in the opening line, which is a deft way of putting it. “Some Kind of Angel” and “Ocean,” both written about her husband, stand as testaments to the couple’s undying love and happiness. Fittingly, the album ends on the reflective “Light Years,” putting all her experiences into perspective.
Overall, Into the Blue achieves that most difficult task, establishing an identifiable sound for the artist while avoiding monotony. The production is infused with a California-inspired smoothness that runs throughout the album, indicative of Reinert’s influences like Fleetwood Mac and Sheryl Crow. With the album’s mix of solid material and on-point vocals, Reinert proves that she can certainly stand alone.