Rose Petals: Selections From The Rose Project

Jaybird

Independent release, 2009

http://www.jaybirdfolk.com

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/01/2010

There are shades of Bon Iver in Rose Petals: Selections From The Rose Project, the auspicious debut from folk-duo Jaybird (comprised of brothers Peter and Jacob Rosati). It’s there in the craggy, complicated lyrics, the rawness of emotion, the layering of voices and simple instrumentation into something grounding and solid. But with Bon Iver, sadness always undercoats the hope; for all the promise of the thaw, there is still a shrouding of icy cold to endure. With Jaybird, however, there is a sense of warmth and perseverance, perhaps because this is a collaboration between two brothers rather than one man holed up in isolation in a wintry cabin. All this comes together on Rose Petals to create something that is quietly lovely and emotionally bare. The Rosati brothers don’t just invite you into their world; they pull you by the hand and draw you in.

The album opens up with “Coiled Snake,” which pairs a delicately plucked riff with an underlaying of shaggier acoustic guitar chords. But it’s the lyrics where Jaybird hit their stride, with images that are just short of grotesque made darkly pretty with the swelling percussion and shivers of guitar chords. A snake and a rat bite of the singer’s ears, and then the snake “squirms between the bloody holes in my head.” Is it a metaphor for destruction or an unconventional attempt at wholeness? Lines like these, and the flourishing instrumentation, make sure you’ll listen repeatedly to unfold the core of each track.nbtc__dv_250

The Rosati brothers deem their style “lyrical folk,” and every song is a revelatory, emotive experience. Like Bon Iver before them, Jaybird’s strength is in its complexities: the deceptively gentle intro that builds up into harshly strummed guitars and growled vocals; the loose country tinge that sneaks in through their use of warmly plucked mandolin. “A Scream To My Rolled Pant Bicycling Friends” seems like a quiet love song at first: “Forge me a bridge / I’m decidedly in love,” the brothers sing, their voices gently weaving. “But I’m not sure with whom,” they add, the sharp reveal. Another vivid line describes love “tickling me / I don’t think he knows it hurts / He picks at my ribcage / He pulls and grabs and my heart.”  It’s weird and it’s wonderful.

Recorded all across the US everywhere from big cities to log cabins in order to achieve “a range of qualities,” there’s never a sense of disparity in these tracks; rather, it infuses these tracks with a sense of relatable restlessness, bound together and kept grounded by chords and harmonies. There’s the crashing cymbals and staccato guitars of “Nathan,” the bare gentleness of “Brimming With White,” the easy, smooth flow of “Isabel,” whose fuzziness and close-miced quality lends an intimacy. And taken as a whole, Rose Petals unfurls with leisure, inviting you to parcel out the intricacies of every song.

The Rosati brothers have come together as Jaybird to create an enduring and evocative release, one that hits straight at the heartstrings.

Rating: A-

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