Praised by critics for her intimately confessional songwriting and arrangements, Rachael Yamagata emerged in 2005 when songs from her first full-length album Happenstance (2004) and her self-titled debut EP (2003) turned up in such films and television shows as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005), In Her Shoes (2005), Prime (2005), How I Met Your Mother, Nip/Tuck, One Tree Hill, and The O.C. The album's single "Worn Me Down" was a Top 5 Hit on AAA Radio.
Yamagata's follow-up release, the 2-CD set Elephants ... Teeth Sinking Into Heart (2008), prompted Entertainment Weekly to declare her delivery "gorgeous" and Rolling Stone to declare that her "soulful, cigarette-scratched voice and melancholy lyrics recall Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey." She toured extensively in support of the album, playing to crowds throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Songs from the album appeared in various television programs and films, including Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, and more. She also made an appearance in the season finale of 30 Rock in 2009.
In addition to her solo work, Yamagata has appeared on albums by Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, Bright Eyes, and Mandy Moore. Her tours have included runs with Adams, LaMontagne, Moore, Liz Phair, Gomez, and Sara Bareilles, and she has played shows with Pete Townsend, Aimee Mann, David Gray, Damien Rice, and Air. For her latest release, Chesapeake (2011), she reunited with Happenstance producer John Alagia, who converted his house into a studio for the recording of the album. Released with the support of the fan-funded music platform PledgeMusic, the album features a delicious assortment of Yamagata's trademark "emotive, poignant pop songs" (AllMusic.com).