It's a classic story. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after. This one has a few different touches, though, and actually goes: girl heads to first ever open mic night; girl sings 'Stuck in The Middle With You' (and 'Ironic' but we'll let that pass); boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, get together, form acoustic duo and live and play together happily ever after. This, in a nutshell is the story of Simon and Rebecca, better known as The Rosellys.
Rebecca expands on the story. “It was ten years ago last April and I was in my first year of medical school. I went to my first-ever open mic night and sang. Simon was there and it was love at first sight. He gave me his number, said he was the fiddle player in a band, we started dating and that was it.”
Simon takes up the tale. “I'd been playing fiddle since I was twelve in loads of bands but mainly [Cajun outfit] The Bon Temps Playboys. But it was only when I met Rebecca that I started to learn the guitar and sing.”
Although Simon's music obviously has American roots, they both credit The Redlands Palomino Company with really kindling their love of Americana, in particular the band's album By The Time You Hear This... We'll Be Gone.
Simon, slightly sheepishly, confesses to hearing 'Doin' it For The Country' and not knowing who 'GP' (Gram Parsons) was (“I thought, general practitioner, what?”) but things have progressed since then, to say the least, and The Rosellys are now an outstanding Americana duo and, as of this year, a fine band too.
“We'd always wanted to be a band,” says Rebecca, and the Redlands, with whom they are now friends, had encouraged them to form one but as Simon explains, it wasn't possible. “Because Rebecca was a medical student for the first five years of The Rosellys and a junior doctor after that, we've always been moving around the country to fit in with her training and you just can't have a band and move every three months. But when we moved to Bristol three years ago it was time. It took a while to get the right musicians but now we have them and it's great!”
Rebecca adds, “It has a nice, fresh feel to it and I just love playing with a full band.”
The duo's commitment to their music extends above and beyond the norm. “I've quit a lot of jobs over the last ten years as we've moved around and to fit in with American visits,” says Simon. The duo have been heading across the Atlantic regularly, more or less, since they started out and have now built up an impressive contacts list. “ We love the Southern States,” says Rebecca, “and when training I had the opportunity to do an elective near Austin and we both went out, lived in a trailer and played music every night, and it's grown from there.”
She's now given up her job and both are full time musicians. Simon believes, “ Time is precious so we try to live life to the most and now is the right time. It's like going to a gig two hours away. 'You always remember the show; you never remember the drive home at two in the morning, When you go out and do stuff it's always worth it.”
A fine philosophy and if it's worth it for them then it's doubly so for the rest of us, who will hopefully get to listen to them more often.
The Rosellys sind eine englische Country Band aus Bristol, die es versteht, traditionelle Country Musik mit einer klaren Stimme zu interpretieren. Die CD The Granary Sessions selbst wirkt abgerundet und gut abgemischt. Neben Balladen sind auch leicht rockig angehauchte Songs vertreten sowie klassischen Country Songs. Harmonisch werden die Songs ins Mikrofon gesungen. Hier erkennt man die Liebe zur Musik. Passend zur Stimme sind die Instrumente im Hintergrund nicht zu laut und passen sich der Stimme von Sängerin Dr.Rebecca Rosellys an. Werden Songstrophen im Duett gesungen, sind die Stimmen synchron und perfekt aufeinander abgestimmt. Für Country Fans eine schöne Alternative, die die Abwechslung suchen.
The Rosellys are an English country band from Bristol who understand how to interpret traditional country music with a clear sound. The CD itself, the Granary Sessions, feels balanced and well mastered. In amongst the ballads are songs with a slightly rocky feel, as well as classic country songs, all sung harmonically through the mic. It’s here that you sense the love for the music. The vocals are sensitively accompanied by instrumentation that isn’t too loud and compliment the voice of the main singer, Dr Rebecca Rosellys. Wherever verses are sung in a duet the two voices are in time and perfectly in tune. A great alternative for country fans who are looking for something new and fresh
On this side of the Atlantic, country music is often a maligned and misunderstood genre, one thought of in clichéd terms, of rhinestones, line dancing, pick-up trucks and peopled with characters seemingly out of The Dukes of Hazzard. And whilst that might be true of the commercial Nashville cash cows, The Rosellys follow a very different trail, one that runs from the underground scene on the eastern side of “Music City” then south and west through an authentic country heartland, ending in their home from home of San Antonio and it is probably no great coincidence that this was also once the stamping ground of the biggest outlaws of them all, Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt.
This album shows the genre in all its myriad forms, the poppy strains of I’m Not That Old, historical narratives such as Asheville1789 to the progressive experimentation of Memories of Me and You and even emotive torch songs with James’ Song.
If the likes of Gram Parsons reframed country music through the lens of the 60’s counter culture and Ryan Adams did the same as an introspective, urban, country rock renegade, then there is definitely room for a new take on the genre by a bunch of English based interlopers.
The Rosellys capture the essence of country, with folk ingredients baked into a transatlantic roots fusion. Simon and Dr. Rebecca Rosellys (look out Hank Wangford, there's a new physician in country music) are at the heart of the band, their sound fleshed out by Drew Bridges (percussion and backing vocals), Bob Lane, (bass) and Allan Kelly (pedal steel and resonator guitar).
The Granary Sessions sets out on 'A Thousand Miles'; a classic American road trip tune. Rebecca's voice aches with sweet longing. 'Not That Old' distils relationship-crunch-time lyrics and resolute harmonic delivery, underpinned by rolling rhythms. 'Maryland', a tribute to Eva Cassidy, features an upbeat pace and lilting fiddle, layering the feeling of the song.
Dipping into the vat of American history, 'Asheville 1784' laments a family broken by the American War of Independence. 'Red, White And Blue' and 'James' Song' turn the spotlight on Simon singing the lead. 'Rose Tinted Glasses' brings relationship-breakdown blues in rich vocal blending and slide guitar. 'Memories Of You And Me' has a poignant arrangement, closing with an instrumental meander into the realms of the psychedelic and fractious; a lovely finish.
This is another band to add to the list of those who add creditability to those making original roots-orientated music in the UK and Ireland. The band is led by Dr Rebecca and Simon Rosellys. They are accompanied by fellow members Drew Bridges on drums, Matt Kirby on bass and Allan Kelly on pedal steel and resonator. The latter ups the country music quotient overall and what is, at times, a blend of folk rock, indie and roots influences, or ‘British Americana’ as they label it on their website.
Rebecca and Simon Rosellys are the songwriters and they have turned out some well crafted stories of travel, travail and temptation. Although from Bristol, many of the songs appear to come from observations made during their wide ranging touring. A Thousand Miles, Maryland, Asheville 1784 are all songs of people and places a long way from Bristol. They actually address the subject in Red, White and Blue where the question “why don’t you sing about your country” is one they seemed to have been asked, and to which they reply that the “streets of grey might show you where I was born, but to the black tops of Texas I belong.” Whatever the inspiration or the location, the end result is well executed and easy to like.
Label mates and major influence the Redlands Palomino Company have been a source of encouragement and more, with members Hannah and Alex Elton-Wall appearing as guest players, with the latter also serving as co-producer with the Rosellys. The additional guests add piano, double bass and cello to a couple of tracks. This gives the sound a rounded and diverse feel topped by the shared vocals of the Rosellys, both of whom take the lead on certain songs and also harmonise together. They handle both tasks with clarity and conviction. The Granary Sessions is the band’s third album and it is evident that they can only get better, but that this is a good place to get acquainted.
All titles are written by the band and reflect their love of the USA and its strong influence, positive pull on them and their music. Titles such as ‘Maryland’; ‘Ashville 1784’; ‘Red, White & Blue’ all clearly mirror the band’s love of the country where this music still holds sway with millions.
In truth, there’s nothing here that is driving, hard-nosed modern country or slick-backed sound, but the overall style and feel of this offering is surprisingly sinuous, sensitive and captivating. The Rosellys clearly draw their inspiration from the music of modern USA but with classic Texan and Appalachian rhythm and swell. Think soft harmonic rhythms and vocals here and you won’t be far wrong. If there is a stand-out track, for me, it goes to number ten, ‘Rose Tinted Glasses’, a paen to discovery, love and loss in the characterful and characteristic US country style.
Production is top-dollar and this is a band full of taste and talent, an outfit with a firm grip and grasp of the modern country scene. Already gaining in popularity in the UK and Europe country music world, this release is surely likely to propel the Rosellys to another level with a planned promotional/support tour of the USA already booked and on the cards.
Rebecca and Simon Rosellys are rapidly carving themselves a strong reputation on the British and American scenes. This was my first opportunity to appreciate the music they make and appreciate it I certainly did.
Whether you try to label it alt folk or Americana or roots, at the end of the day it's a fine album with our without a badge of convenience to fit a musical perception. Like many of the songs, the opener A Thousand Miles is written as a result of shared experience; a drive from Nashville to deepest darkest Texas, and one imagines these experiences have shaped the bond between band members which creates the overall sound.
There are some exquisite lyrics on this album, not least on Maryland which pays tribute to the lost genius of the wonderful Eva Cassidy. Asheville 1784 cleverly relates the apparently true story of a soldier killed in a skirmish with the Cherokee and how his wife and baby fare thereafter. But don't assume the album might be a tad on the intense side throughout because it isn't; there are a number of styles and influences here resulting in an enjoyable three quarters of an hour of listening pleasure. I really warmed to the up-tempo It's Not Me It's You – an observant take on the relationship break up situation and the highly commercial sound of Rose Tinted Glasses which explores the vagaries of friendships.
While The Rosellys have a pedigree of their own the list of guest musicians is also impressive with Hannah and Alex Elton-Wall from The Redlands Palomino Company pitching in along with Rebecca's Ma and Pa Helena and Michael Rosewell adding nice touches of piano and cello respectively. The recording process at a Gloucestershire studio was apparently “organic and slow” with the production process allowing individual songs to develop rather than have any time constraints influence the finished product.
I liked the album although I confess to slight reservations about the Pink Floyd – esque ending to Memories Of You And Me which I felt added little other than about a minute to a decent song. Nevertheless we will I feel sure be hearing more from The Rosellys and that in itself will be no bad thing.
Chris Smith – Country Music People
Much is made of the lack of a traditional country sound today. It’s true that under the new country genre there are some albums that require a very close listen in return for a mere glimpse of pedal steel or fiddle, but Americana is a deep pool and those seeking a richer sound need look no further than The Rosellys The Granary Sessions.
Pedal steel is well tended by Allan Kelly, Simon Rosellys takes charge of blistering fiddle in between bouts on his acoustic guitar and telecaster, bass and drums are in the capable hands of Bob Lane (more recently Matt Kirby has replaced Bob on Bass duties) and Drew Bridges, Rebecca Rosellys completes the engaging line up, with guitar and a precise, clear vocal. The overall effect is rounded and well turned out. Although Rebecca and Simon take lead rolls, I get a sense that this is a band that are collectively focused on their music. Each track on the album includes an opportunity for instrumentation to shine under the spotlight and sonically The Rosellys are tight. Lyrics are well crafted, witty and honest (all tracks are penned by Simon and Rebecca). Of course, being Americana, mixed alongside lighter topics, there are songs that have depth and address hardship, but The Rosellys delivery and melodies give a sense of hope and The Granary Sessions is an optimistic album to listen to.
Based in the Gloucestershire countryside, The Rosellys spend a lot of their time in the US and are closely linked with The Lavens in Texas (A San Antonio-based band). In the UK their musical pedigree extends to the Redlands Palomino Company (The Granary Sessions was produced by Redlands Palomino Company’s Alex Elton-Wall and Hannah Elton-Wall provides backing vocals on a number of tracks), and their work displays a clear respect for the origins of Americana. They are unashamed of their love of the US and their lyrics flow with American influences, yet they avoid aping and maintain authenticity creating what they describe perfectly as British Americana.
Opening with the confident “A Thousand Miles” we get an animated sense of life on the road through lovely harmonies and super bass and pedal steel. One of my favourites, “Not That Old (But I’m Not Eighteen)” follows; packing a punch through Rebecca’s delivery of the feisty lyrics and Simon’s telecaster, this is a song that bounces with enthusiasm and is sure to make audiences smile when played live.
Of the 11 tracks on the album, 3 are tributes, the first of which “Maryland” is offered as a beautifully fitting homage to Eva Cassidy. “Maryland” opens with a Celtic sound, layered with fiddle and pedal steel; the melody is bright and positive and the effect Rebecca’s vocals do the songbird proud.
“Asheville 1784” is stripped bare, lacking the percussion of the first 3 tracks it slows the pace. A hauntingly beautiful song juxtaposed by its subject matter, telling the tale of a frontier mother mourning the murder of her husband by Native Americans. Perhaps a controversial subject choice, but this history has clearly resonated and Rebecca and Simon felt it an important story to tell. The addition of cello (provided by Rebecca’s mother, Helena Rosewell) adds to the eerie tale.
Rebecca’s poignant vocals continue in “Made A Choice”. Lyrics are drawn from her personal experience as a doctor and the realities of a medical career. Well crafted, with heartfelt lyrics, this song resonates with the difficult decisions faced and is drawn along by Bridges on drums and closes to the full-bodied effect of electric guitar.
“Stuck on a win so they tell me can buy
anything I choose
Except the time and freedom to live where I want”
Simon’s vocals stand front and centre in “Red, White and Blue”. This song is a clever, catchy and effective declaration for independence allowing them to address the question of a UK band’s Americana credentials:
“These streets of grey might show you where I
But it’s to the black tops of Texas I belong”
An energetic track, “Red, White and Blue” also showcases the strength of the band to great effect and closes with a fantastic fiddle and pedal steel combination.
“James’ Song” is the second tribute on the album and allows Simon to deliver an emotional and fitting goodbye to his friend and Bon Temps Playboys band mate James Hitchen. Farewells remain the theme in “It’s Not Me It’s You”, with a nice pacey beat and framed by pedal steel, Rebecca’s personality shines through her vocals as she fires lyrics in this foot tapper:
“So take your things and go
I ain’t got time for your games no more
It’s not me it’s you and I’m done”
We slow again with “Number One” allowing Rebecca and Simon to perform as a duo. Pared back and with guitars and vocals in harmony this is a lovely track.
Drawing the album to a close, “Rose Tinted Glasses” follows. Bass stands out and percussion bounces along as Rebecca and Simon switch leads to effectively deliver the spirited break-up message of the song.
“Memories of You And Me” completes the project with a tribute to Rebecca’s Grandfather. Closing on a very strong note, this track is a slow burner that displays an honest take on loss. The melody flows with an intensity that builds and fades only to reopen to a closing instrumental that is both fun and fitting and evokes the hidden tracks on albums of the past. These final notes also give us a glimpse of life at Simon and Rebecca’s converted granary home in Gloucestershire where The Granary Sessions was recorded (surely the base for many a jamming session?). With production that is light but very well tended, I get the sense that this is a project that came together over time and in collective agreement as a band. The result is an album that is made to be savored, perhaps on the porch, drink in hand?
Eye Level With The Stylus Aug 11th 2015
If you can be bothered to look, there’s a website out there called Saving Country Music. I’m sure it’s a great read, and I’m almost sure it rails against the bro’ Country of hit-machine Nashville, which can’t be a bad thing per se. The thing is, Country music doesn’t need saving – it’s been having a high old time of it since the 30’s in America and has never gone away. Right now, the resurgence in its popularity has a lot to do with the Sturgill’s, Combs, Barna Howard’s and Caitlin Rose’s of this world, all of which are due your attention if you’ve missed them (and if you have, where have you been?).
What Country needs is clever promotion, careful marketing and labels that nurture talent rather than look for the next big buck. The UK is lucky to have two labels doing all they can to promote the various genres that lie within ‘The Big C’, Loose and Clubhouse Records. The former deals in Americana, the latter in Country; both are excellent. One of Clubhouse’s recent signing is The Rosellys.
Acknowledging that they weren’t born on Music Row, The Rosellys set out their manifesto halfway through The Granary Sessions in the song Red, White and Blue. A band born on ‘…these streets of grey’ but dreaming of ‘…the blacktops of Texas’ has delivered an album that can’t help but mirror both, if nothing else because Rebecca and Simon Rosellys’s vocal duties bear the unmistakably crystal-cut vowels of their English heritage.
Prior to that, they’ve more than cemented their longing for the American South in songs like jaunty opener A Thousand Miles and rough-edged single material like the riff-laden Not That Old (But I’m Not Eighteen). The excellent Maryland features a lovely guitar intro and careful use of the fiddle and pedal steel on a track that shifts at a pleasing pace. Asheville 1784 is an interesting one. The sad tale of a frontier family losing its father to a Cherokee attack does nothing for the restoration of Native American reputations but plenty for the heartstrings. It’s given additional edge because the storytellers are from the other side of the ocean – I’d love to see how this one goes down in the US, where The Rosellys visit and play often. It’s an excellent, if potentially controversial, song.
Made A Choice continues the quality, starting out as a meandering piece of nostalgia and finishing with some robust lead guitar. In contrast, James’ Song see Simon take the vocal lead on a short ballad – ‘You found the third end to your candle / And you burn, you burn that one too’ – that has the sort of sorrowful ending you just know is around the corner from the first few bars.
I’ve recently found quite a few albums holding back their strongest cuts until the end, and so it is with The Granary Sessions. It’s Not Me, It’s You is a blunt unpacking of the end of a relationship and the best toe-tapper on the album, propelled by Drew Bridges shuffling beat and an engaging melody that once again highlights the guitar playing. Number One allows Rebecca to extend her range a little, but you’ve got to feel sorry for the characters in their stories, as not much good goes right for them – completing a trio of similar studies, Rose Tinted Glasses gives the end of the album a satisfying send off despite the subject-matter. Closing track Memories Of You And Me includes a beefy guitar workout that, having heard it, would have benefitted a number of the other songs. I suspect that live the songs take on an additional layer of attack and bite.
There is an undeniable expectation of difference knowing the band is based in Bristol rather then Biloxi, but The Granary Sessions is a well-paced, well-played album of songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on anything coming out of the US. It’s another good choice by Clubhouse and another reason not to worry about the state of Country music.
This dynamic duo made points for being the farthest travelers to SWRFA from the UK! They harmonize so well and actually have a five piece band back home. Tender tunes were “Don’t Pull Away”, “You See Me Through”, “A Thousand Miles” and “James Song” stayed with me. They anchored a major showcase and killed it! The energy generated by this Americana yet traditional country sound is captivating, especially up close and personal. You won’t meet two sweeter and cordial individuals than Rebecca and Simon. We were so fortunate to get a glimpse of them in Houston also at Anderson Fair shortly after SWRFA to confirm how magnetic their gigs can be! Easy pick for Dirty Dozen #1.
It’s Friday night and we’re back at the Green Note in Camden, this time to see The Rosellys. The queue and sold out poster suggests that we aren’t alone in our love of this band’s British Americana. Support act Hannah Rose Platt opens the evening’s performances and from her first number the audience is enchanted by her pure and haunting vocals. Platt is an artist destined for great things in the world of Americana and her songwriting is beautifully crafted, offering the audience a quality and surprising depth that belies her age.
In the same way that Rebecca Rosellys casts a spell with songs that
reference historical events (“Asheville 1784”, “Queensland Skies”), so
Platt uses vignettes of mundane, daily events that through the magic of
her lyrical and vocal skills are brought to life in full Technicolor in
songs like “Dancer” and “1954”. Her band, in the form of Ryan Williams
and Ryan Treblicock on guitar, mandolin and double bass, provided
outstanding percussion that shone throughout but we really saw them
sparkle on “Halfway Home”. Reprising the first song she performed live, “Hello Central Give Me
Heaven” (published in 1901), Platt sings with a timeless luster and the
invitation for Rebecca Rosellys and Alyssa Bonagura to provide harmonies
on the exquisite “Little Screws” (written by Bonagura’s father Michael)
closed the show on a stunning high.
The short wait for The Rosellys saw the venue pack out and, as the band took to the stage, the audience was ready to party. From the opening bars of the too-appropriate “Camden Town”, a nod to the early days of Simon and Rebecca’s relationship spent there, we were swept along by their performance. (However, by the look of her boots, I suspect Rebecca now shops in Texas rather than Camden Market!). With the crowd in high spirits, the setlist offered the perfect Friday night mix of old and new material, hitting the spot with “Cocaine Train” and “Maryland”. Simon and Rebecca’s layered harmonies had the audience in full voice accompanied by the mesmerizing wail of Allan Kelly’s ever-superb pedal steel.
The Rosellys have a fantastic back catalogue from which to draw and as a full band tonight (we saw them play an exceptional duo set a couple of weeks ago) the focus was on up-tempo numbers showcasing their musicianship. Sitting in the audience, the respect they have for each others’ talent is palpable, as each member receives their moment to shine.
“The Only Way She Knows” offered bassist Matt Kirby an opportunity to let loose with a slinky, funky beat as Rebecca and Simon blazed away on acoustic guitars. Lest the audience peak too soon, Rebecca slowed things down with her soft, honeyed vocals on “Ashville 1784”, before the band were back in full form for a storming “I’m Not that Old (But I’m Not Eighteen)”.
New songs “Dark Clouds or Blue Skies” and “Don’t Let The Whiskey Win” were pared back to allow the listener to reflect on the lyricism of these new creations. The precision drumming from new boy Andy Watson suggests that although Andrew Bridges will be missed, the beat is in very good hands. Taking inspiration from Chris Stapleton, “Don’t Let The Whiskey Win” is a stunner, with opening flashes of steel that grow to a rousing close. “Rose Tinted Glasses” allows Simon and Rebecca to switch leads and, a true anthem for any British Americana lover, “Red White and Blue” led by Simon on vocal and fiddle was one of my highlights.
Road trip song “A Thousand Miles” was another opportunity for the crowd to find their voices and share in the nostalgia of the long drive from Tennessee to Texas but it was the closing full jam session that really stole the show as each member of the band shone through “Empty Pockets” and a stomping “On The Porch”.
Last time I reviewed The Rosellys I said that Alan Kelly’s pedal steel stole the show. This time around he had some serious competition from Simon’s fiddle. In fact, if the Devil went down to Camden Town on Friday night he would have left in low spirits…although Simon’s brother would probably have bought him a consolation drink in the Dublin Castle after the show!
The Rosellys are in seriously fine form and, with their summer tour only just kicking off, they are a must-see this year.
Last night I headed into Camden, London with a friend to see The Rosellys. The gig was taking place at the Green Note and despite only having been there twice, the venue is quickly becoming my favourite venue of all, the intimate atmosphere perhaps perfect for country music/Americana.
Having managed to grab the only seats left in the place before enjoying a drink or two, the night was kicked off by support act Hannah Rose Platt (accompanied by Ryan Williams and Ryan Trebilcock). If you’ve followed Belles and Gals since the start you’ll already know we are huge fans of the London based Liverpudlian singer/songwriter. Hannah put on a brilliant set which included personal favourites such as “1954”, “Dancer” and “Hello Central, Give Me Heaven”, while her set was rounded off by “Little Screws”, the song which opens her stunning “Portraits” album. This was a real treat, as it’s the first time I’ve heard it live and she was joined on stage by a couple of guests, including Rebecca from The Rosellys, which made for the perfect end to a great set.
Fifteen minutes later, Rebecca and Simon Rosellys appeared on stage, backed excellently throughout the night by their full band (Andy Watson on drums, Matt Kirby on bass and backing vocals, Allan Kelly on steel guitar). The first song was “Camden Town” which was a great starting point seeing as that was exactly where we were and the lively number really set the tone for the evening. The brilliant “Cocaine Train” was next, this a song you just can’t help but sing along to and already The Rosellys had the sold out crowd under their spell. Next up was “Maryland”, the first song I ever heard from the band and this emotional number was certainly one of my highlights and I was completely taken by Rebecca’s brilliant lead vocals.
The night continued with excellent numbers such as “Asheville 1784” (which saw Hannah appear again on backing vocals) and “Not that Old (But I’m Not Eighteen)”, while “Don’t Let the Whisky Win” and “Rose Tinted Glasses” were real highlights. Simon took the lead vocals on “Red, White and Blue”, a song that I really hoped was on the set list, while “A Thousand Miles”, the opening track of the brilliant “The Granary Sessions” album came next.
Watching the Rosellys you can see a real chemistry between Rebecca and Simon and it’s very clear they absolutely love what they are doing. They also have a great infectious quality – at one point I looked around and every person in the entire room had a smile on their face. Simon has a great sense of humour too, so some of the chat between the songs has you laughing out loud, which only added to the brilliant atmosphere – and man, can he play the fiddle!
“Empty Pockets” was the “last song” of the evening and was just fantastic, a song I hadn’t heard before the gig but one that I need to hear again. That somewhat disappointing feeling when a great gig has ended was short lived, as shouts of “On the Porch!!!!!” saw them perform this in a brilliant encore which rounded off the night perfectly.
This was the first time I’d seen The Rosellys perform live, but there is no way it will be the last. The setlist was great, the venue was great and The Rosellys themselves were just amazing. If I didn’t have to leave to get the train soon afterwards, I might still be in the Green Note now, singing a poor rendition of “Cocaine Train” whilst propping up the bar – this was a gig I didn’t want to leave!
It’s a fine time to be a fan of UK country music right now and with bands like The Rosellys leading the way, the future is in very safe hands. Brilliant.
It was back up to North London on Friday night for the opening night of The Rosellys album launch tour. Living south of the river can make one lazy about heading north, but when the venue is the award winning Green Note and the band are the latest signing to UK’s Clubhouse records, we knew that quality was assured. Over the last few months my introduction to Americana has broadened my music library and I have been consistently impressed by the quality of Clubhouse acts. This is a label that allows their talent to grow and develop at their own pace and this is exactly what The Rosellys have been doing over recent months in working on their latest album The Granary Sessions.
The Rosellys are a 5-piece band (Rebecca Rosellys, Simon Rosellys, Drew Bridges, Matt Kirby and Alan Kelly) who make no apology for their love of Americana. Musically, they blend English accents with lyrical references to both the UK and US alongside well pitched bass, feisty drum beats and stunning pedal steel and fiddle to create a sound that walks the fine line between Celtic folk and Americana. Their music is engaging and uplifting and having seen members from the band performing with Don Gallardo earlier in the summer I was eager to experience them in their entirety.
Playing to a sold-out venue the evening was opened by People, a two-piece folk/bluegrass combo from Hampshire. Joe Boon and Bryony Lewis performed a well-received mix of originals interspersed with covers. Whilst they would benefit from having a few more of their own songs, they have talent and I look forward to seeing them develop their act in the coming months.
After a short interval, The Rosellys squeezed their full band onto the tiny stage (Alan was limited to the pedal steel as the dobro simply wouldn’t fit!), opening with “A Thousand Miles”, followed by the foot-tapping “Not That Old (But I’m Not Eighteen)” they treated us to a fabulous 15-song set that covered their new album with a couple of older songs thrown in. Having previously performed alongside the Redlands Palomino Company, Simon and Rebecca have honed their skills as musicians and songwriters and their new material is impressive.
Whilst Rebecca takes the lead vocally on most songs and is very comfortable on stage, Simon’s energy stands him out as the front man without overshadowing his fellow band members. His ability to switch between vocals, electric and acoustic guitars and fiddle creates a pace to the proceedings and his humorous asides engage the audience. Despite this, the show was really stolen by Alan’s impeccable pedal steel playing – you really would be hard pushed to find much better in Nashville. Rebecca and Simon were clearly excited to share their new music with the crowd and interacted with the audience with ease when introducing their songs giving the evening a relaxed and intimate manner.
Highlights of the evening included Simon and Rebecca’s acoustic guitars and harmonies on “Maryland” which created a beautifully layered sound against Alan’s pedal steel. Similarly, the paired-back fiddle and guitar combination with Rebecca’s haunting vocals on “Ashville 1784” created an intensity for the true story of a frontier family dealing with the loss of the man of the house “it’s just me and you, were three but now we’re two and I will save us”.
The pace was picked up with “Cocaine Train” from their 2011 album Two Much Like Trouble and the rousing “Red White and Blue” showcased the band in full jam session as Simon took the vocal lead with lyrics that address the question of authenticity of an English band making Americana music. “Why don’t you sing about your own country they say, why don’t you sing about your old fashioned ways…”
“It’s Not Me It’s You” was introduced as Rebecca’s breakup song and bounced along to Drew’s drumbeat with a powerful flash of anger in Rebecca’s vocal that worked for the subject matter. “Only Way She Knows” was a rock n roll blast, with Matt’s bass taking center stage and Simon blazing on acoustic guitar. The set closed to the aptly named “Camden Town” which had a Celtic sound and lyrics that evoke the sound of the time when Simon and Rebecca first met. The band encored with “On The Porch” a fun loving song that immortalises the San Antonio front porch of their friends the Lavens where no doubt there will be many more jamming sessions to come.
As a band The Rosellys are impressive musicians who clearly love to perform. Simon and Rebecca turn out songs with smart and sassy lyrics that make you think and smile in equal measure. Their current UK tour continues throughout September before they head back to the US for a slew of dates over there and I would urge you to check out their British Americana before they leave our shores.
The Rosellys new album The Granary Sessions is released on Clubhouse Records on September 7, 2015.
Giggitys (Texas) Live Review Oct 2014
"headed down for the big family band double bill at Giggity’s with The Lavens (San Antonio TX) and The Rosellys (Bristol England). This show was exactly what I’ve been looking for. This band, The Rosellys, bill themselves as “British Americana” and I’d say that is pretty accurate. They held the massive crowd captive from the first note. Their lead singer, Rebecca Roselly,and their guitarist/fiddler,Simon Roselly, were nothing short of spellbinding. Rebecca’s voice was pure and driven and the band sounded like they’d played the Texas Roundhouse circuit for the last 20 years. Their union with The Lavens made sense to me. .When the two bands morphed at the end of the night, it was pure heaven. Fiddles and guitars pulsing to a full dance floor and a bevy of angels on the mics.
Ronnie Narmour Oct 2014
Maverick Festival Live Review
"Their set is crammed with terrific songs, emphasised by the pretty voice of lead singer Rebecca Rosewell.
They look like a different band to me from last year, oozing confidence and proving with every
chord that they can stand proudly shoulder to shoulder with any of the other acts here."
Louise Rogers, AmericanaUK
Sandman Magazine Live Review
"Vocalist Rebecca's voice was gorgeous, reminiscent of Eva Cassidy,
and guitarist Simon showed a virtuosity that made tracks like 'Caught Me At A Bad Time'
evoke images of back-porch sunsets and endless golden fields"
R2 Rock n Reel Magazine
"Rebecca is front and centre... her honeyed tones gently twisting your arm...
fantastic fiddle and guitar chops really light a fire under these songs.."
Gerry Ranson, R2 Rock n Reel Magazine
"The album is a lovely listen, beautifully understated the 12 original tracks of country-folk
are served up in a mainly acoustic form and delivered free of pretence which serves the songs well."
Simon, Beat Surrender
4.5 out of 5
The Rosellys really are a band brimming with talent.... The Rosellys really are quite an
exeptional band that proves the British country music scene is by no means dead and buried...
sublime and quite brilliant eleven track album with some excellent strumming and
vocals only surpassesd by a handful of artists, this really is a band going places."
9 out of 10
"Beautifully subtle and well judged acoustic jaunt through the back lanes and by ways of British Americana...
Well worth sourcing a copy of this record - cynical hearts prepare to be melted."
Folk n Roots
"One Way St. takes us from genial acoustic-country to contemporary bluegrass to thoughtful balladry and cajun.
The Rosellys play music that's best described as Americana good 'n' true."
"With an overall acoustic feel, One Way Street, is simply magnificent. Perfect musically,
Rebecca Rosewell's vocals rise and fall, telling stories, her way."