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Rain Songs

Linda Perhacs
Linda Perhacs

Linda Perhacs has always loved quiet. “I was taking long solitary walks as early as I can remember. I have a deep, strong love for raw, wild nature,” she tells EW over the phone from her Topanga Canyon home. “You could hardly get me in the house. I knew very early on that I would not be in the kitchen.”

It seems a predilection for a hushed life is necessary for Perhacs’ brand of wispy folk — like seeds of sound carried on the wind — a sort of precursor to contemporary ephemeral acts like Cat Power and Bat for Lashes. Her world of late, however, has been anything but quiet. At 70, forty-four years after her debut album, Parallelograms, a sleeper hit that gained a cult following without her knowledge until the late aughts, Perhacs has released The Soul of All Natural Things. This time around, the world has taken notice: NPR interviewed her for “Morning Edition” on March 5, Time did a feature and Pitchfork reviewed the new record.

This may be surprising, considering that Perhacs was and still is a fulltime dental hygienist (Paul Newman and Dinah Shore were clients, mind you) who never had any interest in fame. But Perhacs has been creating music in her head as long as she’s been taking those solitary walks. 

“I had full compositions of choreography, lyrics — like Broadway shows — by age 5,” she says. Not much has changed with her songwriting. “They come through my head like rain. I have to catch it quickly with pencil, pen and paper,” Perhacs says. 

There are several differences between Parallelograms and The Soul of All Natural Things, but perhaps most noticeably is that on the latter, she’s lifted her solitary veil and enlisted help from the L.A. music scene: indie multi-instrumentalist Julia Holter (on track “Prisms of Glass”), synth queen Nite Jewel aka Ramona Gonzalez (backup vocals) and producer Fernando Perdomo, all of whom are under 35.

“It’s my favorite age bracket,” she says. “They all kept pushing me, ‘Linda, you need to do another album.’”

Perhacs is touring for the first time and she is now collaborating on a third album with Sufjan Stevens. “We’ve already started recording. It’s going to be beautiful,” she says. “I wanted to do something more daring for the next one.”

The Community Center for the Performing Arts and KRVM present Linda Perhacs and Jim Camacho 8 pm Tuesday, March 25, at Cozmic; $15 adv., $18 door, $20 reserved seating.