Cardinal – The Rouen EP

by Rachel Ries

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    Download comes with a PDF of the full Cardinal CD cover, lyrics and liner notes! To be delivered on the album release date. xo!

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  • Compact Disc (CD)

    I've made each of these 7 x 7 prints with MY OWN TWO OBSESSIVE HANDS. Only 40 of each color exists. I drew the image (drawn from "Homing," one of the songs on the EP), transferred and carved it out of linoleum block, then painstakingly printed each of these two color prints on quality French paper. Haven't left my house in a month. Stamped on the back of each print is your unique download code. Also included in THE DELUXE: CD, download, lyrics, liner notes about mysterious French things (with additional drawings and a photograph of the Rouen Cathedral) and, yes, a folded paper boat. PAY WHAT YOU FEEL THIS CREATIVE LABOR IS WORTH. My brother says $50. I say... less.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Cardinal – The Rouen EP via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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I spent June 2015 in a tiny apartment above an ancient chapel in the medieval city of Rouen, France. Joan of Arc’s pyre, a cross to mark the spot, was a few cobblestone blocks away. Churches and cathedrals – hulking and delicate, humbling and invigorating – scattered the city center and beyond. There were also many baguettes.

I was in Rouen to write, and a small network of art-makers and movers made it possible to a degree I could never have imagined. I was nurtured, fed, truly befriended; granted space, instruments and even a studio in the ancient chapel below. I was given so many gifts – tangible and not – but the most remarkable was an ancient key, bestowed upon me by a Frenchwoman and mystic. The key, which looked like a fleur de lis magic wand, dated back to the 1400s and was unearthed in that very same chapel. Large and strangely heavy, chills and tears came upon me when I first held it. The mystic said she knew it was for me but did not know what it unlocked. Odd as it sounds, I know it opened some long-closed doors within me and these songs all carry strains of what I found when sifting through the rooms. Then on my very last day in France, the key and most of my possessions were stolen. And it’s kind of perfect that way. The key had done its job. It was time for it to carry on and lighten my burden on its way.

These songs all share the same arc: each begins in a quagmire and opens to me finding my way through and onward. Whether that’s choosing to believe in my own goodness and my own belonging; or choosing music for all the tumult and peace it brings; or choosing to trust, despite what’s come before. All are about heeding the compass of your heart. All are a statement of my own cardinal values and the direction I choose to follow. All are about finding home.


released March 4, 2016

Songs, Sounds, Art by Rachel
Recorded by Jeremy Messersmith
Mixed by Andy Thompson
Mastered by Greg Reierson




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Rachel Ries Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rachel Ries, hailing from the prairies of middle America, crafts sly and compassionate songs for the crooked-hearted. With an electric guitar and piano; a clear voice and steady hand; she deftly pulls listeners in with disarming candor and holds them there with smart and tender poetry. ... more

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Track Name: Winding Road
WINDING ROAD (for a, always)

oh the roads we are tasked to travel / sometimes wide enough for waltzing in the street / only to turn and narrow so only one may pass / leaving the other somewhere behind

and so it was for you and i after a time we were not side by side / always a different view, not seeing eye to eye / we could have kept on, alone together for quite some time / if i had not heard a call from deep within / to take the road winding through the wood / and to leave you to your own winding road

telling me clear as the prairie night – i must change my course / telling me loud as a thunderstorm – this is not my home / telling me now is the time – don’t delay my lady, love / oh the path was ours and now this path is yours

well now you and i are miles apart but i can feel you near / somehow a string was tied tenderly between / and never a moment of wondering passes / if you and i have fared far better for having walked together

so when the voice is clear you must heed it / when the path is clear you must take it / come what may, you’re on your way / you must be brave, you must be brave / you must be / you must / and that is all
Track Name: Homing

the cathedral bells and heckling men / so it begins again / this morning on the street i found all of these: a folded paper boat / scattered flowers, red-blood / a pigeon, fresh dead with her heart beside her head

so i begin to search again for a petal, a poem to bring to him
so i begin to see again nothing will draw him in

my demons deep, my pride a well / throw a stone, no end is felt / but still my mind seeks him who held / my heart in his own hand / still beating for him, i am / just a pigeon homing him / but he does not want me in

so i return to what i know – all flesh and bone and stars of home
so i begin to bloom again – blood red i am

i see a brightness and i see clear / as i have known darkness long before coming here / here where the bells chime and here where my heart lies / warm and ready for her long walk home

home, where my people are / home, where the kids play in the yard / home, where sarah’s not far / home, where my people are
Track Name: Good Enough

this business is crazy / you never know who to trust / you open your tiny coffer / you get a pocketful of dust / the suits come and go / in their shiny new threads / well my threads are shiny too / from wearing to death

but i’d rather a song on my tongue / than a retirement fund / but i sure hope for both when i’m old / to draw water from

i’ve made so many mistakes / i don’t know where to begin / cataloguing the missteps / that bring me back to begin again / seems when i open my heart / it gets bashed in / but when i put up the wall / no light fills the dim

but i’d rather set the place blazing / and get burned again / than sit in the dark and the din / alone and wondering: do i believe?

this living is crazy / you never know who to trust / but you do it because you can / and you can – so you must! / and one day we’ll find it’s all turned to dust / all the money and the lust for the suits and the luxe / and aren’t we good enough? / i say we’re good enough!
Track Name: Anchor

your anger is an anchor and it keeps you in the bay / safe from squalls and safe from change / tethered by time and at the mercy of the tide / lifting you up just to take you down

you long to set sail in the blinding sun / shielding your eyes in sight of everyone / yet you turn away and scuttle down below / deep in the belly of your hollow little home / holding your breath in the hold of what you know / cradled on the waves, swaddled and alone / while they’ve gone their way, and you’ve gone yours

when you look out to sea and you see everyone / making waves and waving at each other /
do you hold them to blame for believing their dreams / are worth more than a fear of going under?

when you close your eyes do you see what is real, what is real? / turn away from the veil and see you are good, you are good / you are good

so lift your anger and your anchor and set out to sea / join your family in the tumult and the peace / may the wind be at your back / or you know just when to tack / may the oars be close at hand / if the billows should go slack / and may the compass of your heart / know true north is where you’re at / it’s where you’re at

yeah they’ve gone their way and you’ve gone yours / yes they’ve gone their way and you’ve gone yours / they’ve got their way and you’ve got oars