An ode to trials, to the ups and downs of everyday life, Ballads and Burlesque visits familiar territory with a unique arrangement of instruments. Rachael Sage exemplifies the DIY artist, but perhaps deviates from the norm in terms of the success she’s created in her music. This album marks the sixth she’s released on her own label, based in New York City. She’s performed with the posse of NYC female musicians in projects including the likes of Womanrock, Urban Muse and Indiegrrl, as well as at Lilith Fair. Overall, the music on this album merges like a drop into these larger waters, but when you listen to the details quietly scrimmaging in the background, you can enjoy something a little different here. On past albums, Sage has used as many as 20 or more guest artists, incorporating instruments such as accordion, harmonica, cello, violin, organ and melodica to affect a low-key, country emotion and a light-hearted, soft-jazz-like sound. Muted trumpets on “One True Thing” accentuate the music’s energy peaks, and the complex rhythms behind Sage’s airy vocals catch your attention without distracting from the overall harmonies. Sage also plays piano and dances ballet, and this combination seems to lay the groundwork for the aural vision of ballads and burlesque.