Rosalie Cunningham first came to my attention when I caught her former band, Purson, supporting Swedish metallers Ghost at The Warfield in San Francisco.
Since then she has embarked on a solo career and, in June 2019, dropped her self-titled debut album.
It’s no surprise, based on her past work, that from the off this is steeped in psychedelia as Ride On My Bike drops us into a bizarre little tale of forest based cycling and mescaline that certainly owes a lot to the spirit of early Pink Floyd.
As the first half of the album goes on the late 60s psyche vibe continues with an amazing organ sound leading the charge and no guitar going un-fuzzed or un-flanged.
Added to this is an element of that peculiar brand of English surrealism that was prevalent at that time and it all comes together as a strange combination of Kate Bush, The Dresden Dolls and Anthony Newley-era David Bowie to tell a few curious little tales, along with the bleakly titled but not so bleak in practice Fuck Love.
This may all sound a bit like it could be rather dated but it manages to take those influences and sounds and, while certainly being retro, it isn’t regressive, creating for Cunningham a trademark sound that manages to weave its way through tracks that range from fuzzy rockers like Riddles And Games to mellow and evocative songs like Butterflies with as much streamy acoustic guitar work as fuzz and heavy organs.
The whole thing culminates on A Yarn From The Wheel, a song that pulls everything together in one epic folk prog narrative telling the generally abstract story of a rock star or minstrel (or both, or neither).
In doing this it almost gets lost in its own huge groove that swirls and builds behind Cunningham’s vocals that eventually become part of the expanding jam but resolve in terrific fashion to close the record.
With a sometimes carnivalesque feel and hints of music hall throughout, Rosalie Cunningham has created an album of lighter end psychedelic rock (that’s not afraid of being heavy when needed) that is something to really lose yourself in and that manages to be both a throwback to sounds of the past but also its own unique entity.