Rose Cousins Live In Studio

Rose CousinsHalifax Canada’s Rose Cousins brought nothing more than herself and a couple instruments for her in-studio performance at WERS for live music week. As of lately, however, she has been proudly calling Boston her “second home,” and we caught her in rare form, not surrounded by a group of tight knit Boston musicians. She seemed comfortable performing in solitude though, natural even. Her latest album, We Have Made a Spark, was recorded here in Boston, “The writing did happen in isolation I do write better in isolation,” said Cousins “but I have been coming to Boston for 8 or 9 years ago the music community is so incredible, I just met so many people, its such a beautiful community we collaborate so often.” The circumstances of her WERS performance only heightened her music’s already potent sense of intimacy, and whether she was playing guitar, ukulele, or piano, she delivered a powerful performance.

Rose Cousins’ first song “What I See” seemed to be a relatively standard contemporary folk song at first .It had a gently strummed guitar acoustic guitar, beautifully poetic lyrics, even the eyes shut-transcendental performance style. However, as the song progressed, it revealed itself to be more and more distinct, specifically in its incorporation of modern pop conventions. The results of the unlikely pairing of genre conventions resulted in , ironically so, an unconventional performance. She managed to utilize all of the infectiously redeeming qualities of genres that are victims to clichés, while simultaneously jettisoning the characteristics that would make your eyes roll. Where once would lay a vapid and cheesy line in a beautifully accessible pop melody now had lines like “you draw me out, but I still need some shading” nestled in comfortably. She attributes her style to her influences from a young age, citing  “Celtic music, classical, pop, Christian rock” as just a few, “I was also really moved by movie scores, so I guess my music is just mash of all of that.” The main tie between all of her influences, she explains is “an accessibility to the people”

Rose Cousins jogged across the studio to take a seat at the piano for her next song “Go First”. Her piano performance was just as effortless and natural as her guitar playing, further proving her already apparent musical prowess. The song was a somber folk ballad that showcased, more so than anything, her beautiful singing voice. It was hard not to think, based on the quality of her voice, that the song was coming from an emotionally damaged soul, and the macabre manner in which the song faded out only strengthened this idea. AS understated and quiet as the song ws, it packed a resonant emotional punch, which makes it a perfect song to end a Grey’s Anatomy episode. The song is featured in this weeks episode “I wanted to put strings on it to make it sound more dramatic, songs that come up on shows like greys anatomy are always dramatic” said Cousins who has expressed in interest in having music on the show before, “I always had a dream of having a song on the show so it literally is a dream come true.”

In an age where the ukulele has become a staple in the musical arsenal of every high school girl with a webcam and four chords worth of musical knowledge, Rose Cousin’s performance of the adequately titled “Last Song” was refreshing. Just when I thought I had lost all respect for the ukulele, Cousins’ proved that there is still hope for the criminally abused instrument.  It was, with out a doubt, the most depressed that the instrument has sounded in its recorded history. In the same way that she breaks genre conventions, Rose Cousins’ breaks the expectations of her listeners.

By Kevin O’Brien
Photo by Madelyn Reese

 

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