Leaves bud from branches, flowers burst forth from the ground, the sun sets a little later each day. It feels like Nature is revving up her engines for another go-around; you can almost taste it in the air. It must be spring. The second I heard Rose Melberg’s Cast Away The Clouds, I was transported to that seasonal frame of mind. The Canadian countryside (to which Rose is a recent transplant) must be taking its toll on her musical style. And what timing.
No stranger to independent music circles (she has been in bands as far-ranging as Tiger Trap, The Softies, and Go Sailor), Rose has crafted the most honest and delicate release of her prolific career. Equal parts confessional and melancholy, Cast Away The Clouds sparkles with an immediacy that few singer-songwriters are able to capture so completely.
Opener “Take Some Time,” with its simple piano chords and acoustic strumming, finds Melberg reflecting on her success (or rather, lack of) in relationships amidst her beautifully layered vocals:
“There is nothing quite so fine as sitting in this patch of sunshine
Something of my own, a place to sing alone
It’s gonna take some time to fix this love if mine”
Gentle guitar picking and a subtle violin disguise the somberness of
“Orchard.” “Petals float like summer snow/ Every blossom is an apple that will never grow,” Melberg sings as echoing harmonies haunt the background.
A sense of renewal permeates most of the songs on Cast Away The Clouds. The stripped-down tracks, most of which feature no more than two instruments, help set the tone for starting over again. Melberg’s lush vocals require little backing anyway; the focus here is less on the accompaniment and more on lyrical content.
Her acoustic and vocal styling recall ’90s acts Mazzy Star and The
Sundays, and I’m confident Hope Sandoval and Harriet Wheeler would be flattered to know Rose is carrying their influences proudly into the 2000s. The album manages to kick up its feet with the driving piano-waltz of “Irene” and is the only song to feature a drumbeat. With a couplet as biting as “So tired, waking up uninspired/ Too bored, you could change but what for,” Melberg revels in her stark lyrical prowess. The saccharine cooing of “Little Birds” frolics like a summer daydream with the imagery to match: “You are the green, green grass/ You hold me to the earth as hours pass.”
Playing most of the instruments herself (guitar, piano, flute, drums and ukulele), Rose Melberg is the independent musician par excellence. If Cast Away The Clouds is any indication of things to come, then her career is basking in the radiance of Spring. Autumn never seemed so far away.
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