Rachael Yamagata, Madi Diaz

The best singer/songwriters make you feel their music no matter what the tone of the song is and the lyrics are. In other words, you feel the words pouring out of them whether you can relate or not. This week’s “A-Sides” performers are guilty of that for sure. With her distinct raspy-ish voice and sometimes chilling words, Rachael Yamagata has collected a legion of fans with every release she’s come out with (case in point they helped fund her current tour via pledgemusic.com.)

Last week, Yamagata released “Chesapeake,” a new album that’s not as dark in tone compared to her last LP “Elephants” and features a musical “dream team” to back her up. Her band for the record features Victor Indrizzo (Sheryl Crow) on drums, guitarists Mike Viola (Candy Butchers), Michael Chaves (John Mayer), and Kevin Salem, (Dump Truck, Yo La Tengo), cellist Oli Kraus (Sia, Duffy) and Tom Freund on upright bass. Most of that team joined the Virginian in New York City recently for an “A-Sides” session at the Sneak Attack Media offices. While the music can sometimes be a bit heavy, Yamagata and her band came off very light – just a fun-loving bunch making some sweet music together.

The same can be said for rising indie folk star Madi Diaz, who has been touring this fall to promote her recently released EP “Far From Things” and her upcoming new album. The Lancaster, PA native, joined by collaborator Kyle Ryan, came off as shiny happy people. Why wouldn’t they? Diaz is on a critical roll of late – gaining praise from everyone from AOL Spinner to the Boston Globe and having her songs featured in television shows a lot of people watch but I don’t such as “Army Wives” and “Pretty Little Liars.”

Watch Diaz perform “Love You Now” off her upcoming album and “Let’s Go” the first single off her EP after a pair of performances (and an informal chat) with Yamagata. It sounds so good, and it’s easily the best use of Cherrios you’ve ever seen.

Rachael Yamagata – “Dealbreaker”

Rachael Yamagata – “Starlight”

Madi Diaz – “Love You Now”

Madi Diaz – “Let’s Go”

About “A-Sides with Jon Chattman”
Jon Chattman’s music series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.