Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rosie Thomas - These Friends of Mine + "Where Was I"

(Here's another piece I recently wrote for NoiseTrade.)

For Rosie Thomas, an album title like These Friends of Mine is far more than just a cutesy, homespun ideal. When it came time to put together her fourth release, she enlisted the help of some pretty impressive friends and the results are as warm and welcoming as any late night hang-out should be. These Friends of Mine is a beautiful collection of Rosie’s songs that showcases a unique mix of uncluttered instrumentation, bittersweet lyrics and her crystal clear vocals. Add in a list of contributing friends that includes players/singers/producers like Sufjan Stevens, Denison Witmer, Dave Bazan (Pedro The Lion, Headphones), Damien Jurado and Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate, The Fire Theft) and you’ve got the ingredients for an overwhelmingly awesome album. The songwriting is inviting and moving, the vocals are expressive and soothing and the overall vibe is cozy and relaxed. Even the banter and laughter that bookends some of the songs feels comfortable and genuine. One of an artist’s main goals is to make a connection with the listener and Rosie does an incredible job of getting her songs across with an engaging invitation and a quiet confidence. Her fragile, breathy vocals are the perfect vehicle for her lyrics and really help to convey the romantic daydreaming of “All The Way To New York City,” the wistful rememberance of “Much Farther To Go” and the wanderlust of “Kite Song.” When she duets with Sufjan on “Say Hello,” the matched delicateness of their deliveries resonate in a really cool way most that duets never achieve. Even when she’s not singing her own songs, she manages to put her own stamp on some great covers from Fleetwood Mac (“Songbird”), R.E.M. (“The One I Love”) and Denison Witmer (“Paper Doll”). These Friends of Mine is an incredible slice of laid-back indie-folk that’s best listened to while hanging out with your closest friends and holding hands with your special someone. Don’t worry though, it sounds just as amazing when you’re by yourself.

These Friends of Mine was originally released in 2006 on Seattle’s legendary Sub Pop Records and the fact that it’s currently being offered on NoiseTrade for free (or hopefully for a generous tip!) is just plain cool. But if downloading such a great album wasn’t enough for you, Rosie has also included “Where Was I,” a new song from her forthcoming album, With Love. The soft shuffle of “Where Was I” finds Rosie backed by a full band and singing in a richer register of her voice. The cool contrast between the songs on These Friends of Mine and “Where Was I” really spotlights Rosie’s talent, versatility and progression as an artist. With Love will be released on February 14 on Sing-A-Long Records and continues the “friendly” aesthetic as it was produced by Dave Bazan and boasts appearances from Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Blake Wescott (The Posies) and many more. Rosie is also hitting the road in March for a small tour to support With Love and you can catch her at the following shows:

3/15 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ World Cafe Live
3/16 – Vienna, Va. @ Jammin’ Java
3/17 – Chapel Hill, N.C. @ Nightlight
3/18 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Red Light Cafe
3/20 – Nashville, Tenn. @ 12th and Porter
3/21 – St. Louis, Mo. @ Old Rock House
3/23 – St. Paul, Minn. @ Turf Club
3/24 – Madison, Wis. @ University of Wisconsin
3/25 – Chicago, Ill. @ Schuba’s
3/26 – Ann Arbor, Mich. @ The Ark
3/27 – Grand Rapids, Mich. @ Covenant Fine Arts Center
3/28 – Akron, Ohio @ Musica
3/30 – Boston, Mass. @ Cafe 939 at Berklee College of Music
3/31 – New York, N.Y. @ Joe’s Pub

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