Album Review: The Rosellys – The Granary Sessions

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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 lineup, 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 was born
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.

“Jamie’s 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 Jamie 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?

The Granary Sessions is released on Clubhouse Records on September 7, 2015.

   Click here to view The Rosellys UK Tour dates are on our Events pages
 Track List
  1. A Thousand Miles
  2. Not That Old (But I’m Not Eighteen)
  3. Maryland
  4. Asheville 1784
  5. Made A Choice
  6. Red, White and Blue
  7. James’ Song
  8. It’s Not Me It’s You
  9. Number One
  10. Rose Tinted Glasses
  11. Memories of You and Me
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The Rosellys are a five piece Americana band from Bristol. Regular tours to America clearly influence their song writing and live performances with close comparisons made to artists such as Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings to name a few.

The Band formed when Rebecca (guitar/vocals) met Simon (guitar/vocals/fiddle) in 2005. They've toured extensively across the UK, Australia and America – notably the Southern States where San Antonio, Texas has become their second home. Allan (pedal steel/accordian/dobro) joined the band in 2006 – recording on all of their albums to date including Drive Through The Night (2006), One Way St (2008) and Two Much Like Trouble (2011).
Drew (drums) joined the band in 2013 followed by Matt (bass) in 2015 creating a powerful Alt-Country sound.

The Rosellys have performed live on BBC Radio, KSYM Radio (USA), and at various festivals including Chepstow Folk Festival, FactoberFest, Worcester Music Festival, Crawley Folk Festival, Tingestock, Lazy Bishops Festival, The Woodzie Festival (New Braunfels, USA) and Maverick Country Music Festival, winning their song writing competition in 2010. Venues played include The Musician (Leicester), The Grain Barge (Bristol), The Canteen (Bristol), The Tower of Song (Birmingham), Casbeers (San Antonio, USA), Floores Country Store (Helotes, USA), The Cove (San Antonio, USA), Come Down And Meet The Folks (London), Enochs (Monroe, USA), Donn's Depot (Austin, USA)
Capitol Theatre (Tamworth, Australia) and the world famous Aubade Theatre (Lecompte, USA).
“Hailing from the UK, The Rosellys are really quite an exeptional band that proves the British country music scene is by no means dead and buried”
(Maverick Magazine)
Rebecca and Simon have been lucky enough to record guitar, backing vocals and fiddle for their favourite UK based country rock band 'The Redlands Palomino Company' on their third album 'Don't Fade', and also on their latest CD 'Broken Carelessly'. Hannah Elton-Wall (Redlands Palomino Co) blessed The Rosellys third album 'Two Much Like Trouble' with beautiful backing vocals and The Rosellys are very excited to have Hannah back in the studio for their new album 'The Granary Sessions'. Her husband Alex Elton-Wall (also Redlands Palomino Co) has recorded and co-produced The Rosellys new album due for release later this year

(Biography sourced from: Artist Website)

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I live for the experience of live music. Nashville is my kind of town and life feels pretty good at a country concert in the sun with a cold beer in hand. My appreciation of country came via my Dad’s collection in the 70’s and 80’s and I spent my teens listening to Springsteen. On a trip to the states about ten years ago I flicked to the CMT channel and Brad Paisley’s Whiskey Lullaby had me hooked. Since then my love of the genre has seen me travel to the US regularly to attend concerts, festivals and more intimate songwriter sessions in some great venues. It is terrific to see artists making the return trip this side of the Atlantic but equally refreshing to see some fantastic homegrown talent gaining recognition. This is an exciting time for “new country” and I am very happy to be along for the ride.