Dear Music Appreciators,
I first saw Rosie Thomas perform at a "Christmas show" with Damien Jurado and friends in December 2001 at The Paradox in Seattle. When I walked into the theater pre-show she was picking at the piano onstage, singing little half phrases from a song called "Farewell" off her SubPop debut WHEN WE WERE SMALL. But that record hadn't quite been released yet. I remember feeling instantly hypnotized by her voice and immediately wondering to myself if this would ever become one of those "I knew her when..." moments. The comedic routine she performed near the end of the night as her perpetually neck-braced alter-ego "Sheila Saputo" was hilarious and completely unexpected - sing like an angel/silly like Lucille Ball is a rare combination I think.
That was over ten years ago and since then I've seen her in concert three additional times, collected and carefully listened to each of her six previous full length albums (including ALL THE WAY FROM MICHIGAN NOT MARS on vinyl/DVD), purchased from her a handmade scarf and a hand-signed and decorated EP, and obtained her autograph on a ticket stub while she worked her own merch table at a Crocodile Cafe show with Dolorean and Damien Jurado.
Obviously I'm a big fan. Not her "biggest fan" in a Kathy Bates kind of way, don't worry, but a big fan. Rosie Thomas was the first independent musical artist that both my wife and I enjoyed together after we got married, and she has brought a wealth of beauty and romance to my music collection and to my life for the last ten years. And as a big fan I continue to be disappointed that Rosie continues to go without the kind of recognition her enormous talent deserves.
And here she is on Valentine's Day with her seventh full-length effort titled WITH LOVE. Producers Bazan and Wescott help at times to throw a different kind of light on RT's trademark gorgeous vocals, fragile songs, and "in your living room" ambience. This record seems a little groovier, a little poppier, and in Rosie's own words "kinda dancey." This all fits her well. It's nice to get out of the living room once in a while, and the backup vocals, hand claps, and scribbly bass line on "Over the Moon" certainly do put things in a "kinda dancey" mood.
While the hitting-the-road imagery in "2 Birds" hearkens back pleasantly to classic Rosie songs like "Wedding Day," at first the high drama of songs like "Two Worlds Collide" and "Back to Being Friends" seems by contrast to be kind of corny and overdone. But at the end of the day this seems to be an album inspired by meeting and marrying one's true love and the emotional surges and conflict that can accompany such major life events - and if that's not cause for some drama of the heart then I don't know what is.