Raechel Whitchurch

Raechel Whitchurch had a few non-negotiables when she came back to playing music: be true and be brave.

She’d grown up in country music: immersed in it from family band, The Lees, and feverish songwriting ahead of her 2016 debut EP, to her “day job” as a booking agent for a host of big names who happened to be friends and colleagues.

“Country is authentic to who I am,” she’ll tell you, as if you couldn’t tell from that lightly honeyed voice and genuine spirit.

But pleasing everyone, worrying what everyone else thought, took the fun and authenticity away. And with it went her confidence. So she stepped away. For a year, two, three …until “as time went on I started to get this little tingle in my heart: I could be doing this. I should be doing this. Why aren’t I doing this?”

The love of a good song, the joy of performing it, were coming back. And that’s where the rules she set herself came in.

“I have to be me, because I can’t live a life where I’m acting. I’ve tried, but I’m not a very good actress,” Raechel says, explaining that being honest to two particular people changed everything.

“The thing that changed things for me was when I had kids and I realised that one day I was going to have to look them in the eye and when they said ‘hey mum why didn’t you ever do music?’ I was going to have to tell them the reason why is because I got scared.”

And that just didn’t sit right with her.

“I can’t stand here and raise brave, forward-thinking, secure children but at the same time be a walking contradiction. I have to show them, I have to model to them, what it looks like to take risks and maybe fail,” says Raechel with quiet determination.

“That became a big catalyst for me to make this record: at the end of the day to tell them I tried.”

She’s more than tried; she’s put everything into Finally Clear, a debut album which captures not just her “coming home” musically and spiritually, and a renewed passion in music that straddles alt-country and old school country, but her sense that she had to be true to herself in every way. 

Even if it meant wiping away the dirt others might think makes something “real”, and letting the part of her that loves Gram Parsons (after whom she named her son) share space with the part that is a Kacey Musgraves fan.

“I really wanted it to be a very clean record. I’ve always erred on the side of a bit dirty, a bit gritty: that’s been the style of music I played. But I think I’ve done that because I thought I wasn’t good enough to be clean and crisp and tight,” Raechel confesses. 

“When I went to [multi award-winning gun producer] Matt Fell I said I really wanted this album to be softer, and a lot more authentic, because I felt that I had presented myself in a way that wasn’t always who I am.”

Whether on her parent’s property in Parkes (where she wrote Finally Clear’s title track under the stars, telling herself “give this a go. It has to be now”). Or in the hectic moments at home. Or in the studio taking Fell’s advice that she shouldn’t worry about proving herself but trust in her work and “just sing the song”. Wherever it was, Raechel was happy. And happy to show it.

“As uncool as it sounds, and it is uncool to say, I am not a broken human being. I love my family and I’m happy with where I am in my life, and I’m doing my best like we all are. And I think it should be celebrated if life is beautiful and pure and happy,” she says.

“This is just as remarkable, if not more so, than someone who is dwelling in self-hatred and self-pity. They’re just different stages of life and one is not more authentic than the other.”

And if that puts her on the outside a little bit? As her song, You Ain’t One Of Us, shows, Raechel is fine with that. Sometimes that’s where you have to be so you can say “I am who I am and I kinda like who I am”, and mean it.

Raechel Whitchurch has learnt that lesson and lives by that rule. That’s non-negotiable.