Reviews:: Rosie Thomas These Friends of Mine

The problem with having famous friends is that people talk about you constantly. In Hollywood you have K-Fed and Paris. In indie rock, well, you have Sufjan. People either love him or hate him, but more importantly, need to talk about him. Unfortunately, as a result, more people were talking about Seattle singer Rosie Thomas for her relationship (and rumor of a possible sprog) with Sufjan than were talking about her for her actual music.

I was a bit worried when I heard Rosie decided to pick up and move to NY to record a self-released album with every blogger's favorite son and close friend Denison Witmer. I assumed the inevitable hype and subsequent backlash would overshadow the music itself.

After listening to the record - These Friends of Mine, I can honestly say that shouldn't happen. From start-to-finish, the record is great and instead of creating tapestries of sound heavy in textures and layers, Rosie took the complete opposite approach and recorded in a apartment studio littered with only a couple of mics.

The result is a 10-song folk record filled with songs that are much more organic than you'd expect and play more like a jam session than a full fledged studio effort. From the opening notes of If This City Never Sleeps, you are grabbed by a sparse, folky arrangement. It's just Rosie's voice, her guitar and some harmonies that channel the great 70's folk music. You can't help but love her singing, "If this city never sleeps, does that mean that no one dreams, and if so, I guess I'm heading home."

Some of the tracks have banter, joking and laughter, and this really adds to the intimacy of the whole project. You see how much fun these three friends really recording these songs. It has to be said - Sufjan and Rosie's voices work perfectly together (so does Witmer's). They fit together like pieces of a puzzle. But don't be fooled into thinking this is a collection of duets. Rosie's vocals and lyrics are the focus of the record. Rather than try to share the spotlight, her friends are happy to just add their part, and the result is stronger than I expected.

There are lots of highlights on this record, like her sincere cover of R.E.M.'s The One I Love, or her take on the cold reality of letting someone go on Why Waste More Time?,or the beautiful piano-laced ballad All The Way to New York City (where Rosie dreams of taking her lover to New York city to escape the life they live and embrace the allure of the magical city), or the movie reel sound added to the beginning of These Friends of Mine. I could talk for hours, but this record is better listened to than described.

You can buy the record online now, but the physical copy isn't due out until March.
MP3:: If This City Never Sleeps
web site :: myspace :: more tracks

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