Nottingham based librarian reveals delightful, off kilter pop sensibilities on second album of self-penned, self-recorded songs. No duets with Wood Pigeons this time around.
The second album from Rosie Abbott carries on where her debut from around 5 years ago left off, which is a good thing. That self-titled debut was written, performed and recorded in its entirety by Rosie, a Nottingham based singer/songwriter who by day works in a local library. Chock full of off kilter melodies, imagination and the aforementioned duet with a Wood Pigeon, it introduced the world (or the few that heard it) to a songwriter who, rather than fit her songs into nice little boxes, would bend and twist genres to fit her own writing and ideas. In a similar manner to Ruth Theodore there are unexpected chord changes, melodic twists and turns, instrumental variation and a voice that is equally at home with the guitar driven scuzzy pop of ‘Power Lines’ as it is crooning beautifully to the keyboard led ballad which is the title track.
If anything, the songwriting and singing is more refined and confident than on the debut with maybe a little less of its quirkiness but added adventure. The influences are plenty, with the classic sixties pop of The Beatles and The Kinks a touchstone, alongside some of the more colourful, kaleidoscopic psychedelic pop of the same decade and the more experimental material of Kate Bush. Reading through Rosie’s website reveals that Ray Davies was very complimentary about ‘Hard to Sleep’ off the debut album, whilst the start to this albums opener ‘Off The Radar’ wouldn’t go amiss on side 2 of ‘Hounds of Love’.
Second track ‘Separate Ways’ piano has that slightly wonky but jaunty feel to it with colour added by a variety of instruments which appear in little cameos. Lyrically it seems to cover a broken relationship with the singer dealing with the varying emotions when crossing paths with the ex, thinking what might have been- ‘opposite directions lead to the same place, we head off with our backs turned and end up face to face’.
‘Cloud Rolling’ is one of two instrumentals (the other being ‘New Dawn’) that provide further opportunity to explore and experiment with a Rosie take on Krautrock being the nearest I can come to describe these. Golden Cloud has a lovely, fluid, squelchy rhythm guitar, keyboards and harmonies which call to mind some of The Phoenix Foundations earlier psychedelic pop moments.
On ‘Nowhere Near’, Rosie sings beautifully, holding the notes on those mid and end-of-word syllables in the style that k.d.lang does so impressively, backed by acoustic guitar in one of the more simply structured songs on the album. On ‘Failure’ she urges the listener to keep faith with themselves and what they’re doing despite the obstacle of self-doubt. Is this a message to self? I can only guess what emotions a singer/songwriter goes through in the process of putting something like this together solo and in complete control with no band member or studio engineer to bounce ideas off.
Similarly to ‘Nowhere Near’, the title track is another relatively sparsely backed song which highlights the stunning, natural vocal performance. Bizarrely, she sounds not unlike Dusty Springfield in tone and feel on this one while ‘Starting From Today’ has an airy, dreamy opening which is gradually brought back down to earth by the underpinning guitar and some rather dramatic piano before fading with the same airy, dreamy opening.
Regrets felt when falling out with a partner, the mind playing tricks on what it was all about, appears to be the subject of ‘Does My Memory Serve Me Right ‘ where again the song is embellished with more inventive instrumentation, including brass, marching drums, a distant organ and something unidentified but distinctly wobbly. It all adds up to an impressive array of instruments used on the album, all of which were played by Ms Abbott. I almost felt a pang of disappointment when I found that she wasn’t responsible for the artwork…
The next two tracks are vignettes, the first perhaps dealing with escapism through dreaming and the second being a kind of follow up to the first albums ‘One More Glass’, a drinking song where the singer gets progressively drunk with each chorus (complete with hiccups). This quirky little eccentricity is called ‘I Feel Like Hell’ and recalls the disastrous morning after the night before- missed the alarm, lost shoes, missing the bus, getting narky etc etc. We’ve all been there. ‘Testing The Limits’ closes the album, the opening reminiscent of The Beatles ‘Life in a Day’ and would appear to concern the little games people play with each other, pushing and probing until they go too far.
This album is expansive musically, quite personal lyrically, beautifully sung and impressive in the array of instruments used as well as the way they are implemented. Despite the many influences, it’s creative, original and rewards repeated listening. The album is available through her website below.