Mostly she always sits alone

With her head full of things

No one wants to know

Mostly she always sits alone

Blonde skin, wide teeth, she sits alone

Saturday morning cartoons

My mom and that man I kinda know

It’s cold here, mold growing on the bedroom wall

I share it with my sister in the linoleum hall

Who will tuck me in? Suck in the tear

It’s cold here

He offered me a sip of beer from the front seat

We’re headed to Idaho for church today

Blowing bubbles could make me happy

If I was a normal kid, it may

But this is my life

This is the way it goes

Does anybody really know

The mold and pain that grows

And never seems to go away

By Rachel Adell

A lot of my music does confuse, but the dichotomy is one hundred percent intentional. Super sad lyrics paired with a completely upbeat bombastic parade? Not sure there’s a better way to describe me. I know it’s what has made my music a little less commercial. But truly, to stay authentic, I could have it no other way. You’ll find that behind many shiny performers, you’ll find a deeply quiet and often sad person. Someone who’s survived a lot of pain. Does this mean they’re fake? Does this mean they’ve gotten over everything? Does this mean they’re strong? Maybe. All I know is that each person is a complex story to unfold.

Since you’re taking the time to come and read about my song, I’ll give you a little insight to some of the experiences included in this particular song…The girl that sits alone is me. But it’s also my sisters. We all had different dads and because of this, were estranged from our family in one way or another. On the Saturday morning I was born (at home), my sister was sitting in the other room trying to drown out the screams with Sesame Street and Bugs Bunny. My biological father was the second or third in a line of men that she would stop investing in.

We’re all very imaginative girls who have always found a great audience with our mother and with one another. Those on the outside rarely understand our particular recipe of pain + honesty + quirkines. We will continue to try to explain, and continue to expect most to be thoroughly confused.

As a child, I always wanted someone to come in and tuck me in, but I also didn’t. Either I was in trouble or I was lonely, there were rarely moments in between. Moments I felt embraced and loved. There was a moment when I tried to share a homemade corner room with my baby sister to help her stop crying. It worked for a couple hours. I brought this image into the song because that night reoccurs in my thoughts and dreams over and over again.

The bridge refers to a memory that my older sister recalled about my biological dad taking us to a church over the state border from Wallowa to somewhere in Idaho. My sister detested him and church. He offered her a sip of beer while he was driving. She was in the back seat and I was laying on the front seat. She remembers chewing grape bubble gum and distincly feeling like not even that could make her happy.

The last verse is a description of pain that’s always there. You can come to terms with things, you can even try to learn from them, and then get over them. But sometimes there’s just a stubborn scar left over from the experience. Without proper attention, it could continue to grow into something larger and more distorted. *enter any number of addictions*

Since writing this song my heart has healed tremendously. There is value in talking, expressing, and sharing your experiences with others. Not only does it connect you more authentically to everyone else who’s experiencing their own kind of pain, it just validates it and makes it smaller somehow.

Here’s a line in Crocodile Dundee that explains this concept beautifully, “…if you got a problem, you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town… brings it out in the open… no more problem.” There is something to be said about airing out the painful things of life in the warm open arms of the sun. We go through stuff, and then we get to decide if we’re going to let it be heavy or let it go.

It started out with a happily ending    

The mom, the dad, the kids pretending

That all was well within the ranks

Till they whipped out the rifles and set up the tanks

I’m a nothing, I’m a flea

Drowning in a hot milk sea

Fallen down the grassy hill

Lay broken at the bottom with Jack and Jill

What to live for, they tell me What I’ll grow up to be Who to see, and how to see What to be, they tell me Who they see But who they see will never be me

The world around was moving slower

Crouched in my seat and sinking lower

Grades were dropping, clothes were slopping

Bursting bubbles all were popping

Take what’s left, keep it protected

Act cool and unaffected Grassy knees and broken crown

Pick up your bones after you fall down

They went out for just one last bite, of their tasty candy tequila night While happily stoned stumbling home, They found their children sittimg alone King and Queen of Hearts and no one else, you can tie their ribbons, while they ring their bells But it’s awfully hard to fill a gaping gap on another nice Mommy or dear Daddy’s lap They gave it their all, they gave it their best, but they weren’t the ones to undo their own mess

Follow me, my rain black cloud

The giant voices are too loud

Sometimes her, it’s sometimes him

Through these boozed up veins I swim

It’s not my favorite game to tell

Who pushed and yelled until I fell

Under here, a screaming shout

Please someone get me out right now

by Rachel Adell

Back story to some of the symbolism in this song…

Rifles and Tanks: Home felt like a war zone. (Wait until I tell you about a dream I had about three years ago about plastic toy artillery trucks from the 80’s being stored under my rib cage. Talk about symbolism)!

Flea: When my parents divorced, my emotional needs were at the very bottom of everyone’s list. No one asked me what I wanted, how I was feeling. I felt small and insignificant.

Hot milk sea: Left alone with a mother who shared her unhappiness with me, and I felt like I was drowning a lot of the time.

Jack and Jill: A throw back to traumatic childhood poetry with a horrible ending and no explanation, seemed to match the feelings I had about my parents divorce. I was only seven years old and it ruined me.

The Chorus: This section is from an old poem I wrote in high school. “What to live for, they tell me…” This confusing chorus is all about how the adults in my life felt they had a right to tell me how to live and what I’d become. When in reality, it was their negligance that would determine how I would need to be. As a child, when your needs are not met at home, you find a way to get your needs met and go into survival mode. I went internal, I made music, I wrote, I made art. And though I may have outwardly obeyed to avoid something as intimate as a conflict, I did not absorb the foolish musings bestowed upon me. Most any adult in my life, I made dang sure they didn’t know the real me. Even as a child I knew they didn’t care about me, they only wanted to control me for their own peace of mind and convenience.

Clothes were slopping: This was middle school when I deliberately let my grades drop to see if anyone would care. Surprise! Most did not.

Bursting Bubbles: I would get my hopes up about a lot of potential scenarios where my mom would remarry the current guy she was dating, and settle down and we’d have a normal life again. But after she continued the cycle of dating and breaking up a few times, I learned to turn off those hopes and focus on things within my control.

Boozed up Veins: I wouldn’t say my mother or father were moderate drinkers. For my Dad it felt leisurely and just habitual, whereas for my mother it felt like she was numbing pain. I always felt my mother’s sadness simultaneously pouring into her glass and my heart.

Under Here: I would often scream into my pillow or under my blanket, and I felt like I was trapped under water or under hundreds of bricks and no one could hear me, let alone help me.

Wow, sad song right? But the happy instrumentation. That’s always been me. When I’m sad, I try to find a way to put a bounce in my step. This used to be a survival instinct to mask my broken heart as a child. Very few took the time to look past the mask, those were the people I still keep close to my heart. As an adult I turn to light things simply to change my mood. Music, natural light, dancing, running, art, or laughing seem to do the trick. I find that once I’m out of my doom and gloom and in a more balanced logical head space, I can better evaluate my situation anyway. Don’t underestimate the fake happy people, sometimes they’re just being plain smart. Ha!

This album encompasses the pain from my childhood, never intending to paint a rosy picture. The sentiment behind Unpainting Roses is about the meticulous effort required to remove red paint (secrets, lies, and unrealistic expectations) from delicate rose petals. The roses representing my heart.

The queen sees a plain white roses as weak, so she tries to cover it up. However, it was the heavy, synthetic red paint that made them weak. Reducing their ability to grow, breath, and pollinate, not to mention their deadened fragrance and glow. We all battle with these suffocating expectations. Whether from a parent, our culture, or our own imagination we all battle our inner Queen of Hearts. Our goal is to be like the Alice I imagine, who willfully disobeys the orders and even gets friends to help her carefully remove all the paint from these once pure roses.

Many of the songs are abstract letters to myself. I’m the girl who “Sits Alone”, “Your Jail” is actually my jail, and those dark blue “Studio Eyes” are mine (even though my eyes are sorta yellow). Unveiled in the fresh air, the power of the dark vanishes. What a relief, and also magic.

Writing and releasing this album felt like a true release. The resolve I felt afterward created a whole new flood of songs. This time they were humming tunes of light and love. My hope is that the new songs will heal hearts in the same way they have healed mine.

As you listen to Unpainting Roses, consider it a dusty letter from the past, and look forward to the fresh morning rays of a Saturday Sunrise.