Review Summary: Rosalie Cunningham rises from the ashes of Purson's career and creates more enjoyably versatile material, this time under her own name.
Back when Purson disbanded in 2017, it was taken as unfortunate but not terrible news. Yes, the band had grown in confidence and their fanbase was only ever going to grow and grow with real satisfaction, but each member of the band also had a fairly extensive musical CV which reflected their individual talents for songwriting and contribution to numerous other bands. The former frontwoman Rosalie Cunningham for example, never seemed to run out of steam and that is especially true on her solo debut effort, released earlier this year. Now if you've listened to either of Purson's albums, you'll know what to expect, albeit with poppier sensations and more accessible musicianship.
Cunningham's solo full-length is rife with confidence and brimming with versatility, and yet this comes as no surprise to those who have followed her every musical step since day one. Opener "Ride On my Bike" springs into action with its fuzzy guitar tones, bouncy rhythms and alluring melodies. For an introduction to the album it wastes no time in drawing the listener in, the vocals soaring as the song reaches its peak towards the end. In similar fashion "Riddles and Games" and "*** Love" flow with relative ease, the former never leaving your memory with its classy pop charm and the latter, despite being slower in comparison, still retains its energy by providing satisfying and intricate piano solos infused delicately into the rhythm section.
What we have here is a real versatile selection of songs. There may only be 8 in total, but each song is rendered individually important and due to this there is thankfully little to no filler material to be found. The Vaudevillian musical sensation of "Dethroning of the Party Queen" is a mostly piano-led thrum, yet it builds with louder and more epic-sounding textures as the progressive songwriting enables Cunningham to play in a fluent manner. "Nobody Hears" on the other hand is a slow-burner by comparison, and explores the slightly darker, more Gothic influence found in places on Purson's debut The Circle and The Blue Door
. In the same song however we're treated to a myriad of blues and slow jazz influences, Cunningham unleashing her inner soprano as her voice soars above the dwindling piano work, all musical elements clear and enthralling in their respective deliveries. Of course it would be an insult to forgot the album's centrepiece, a colossal 13-minute closer in "A Yarn from the Wheel" which succeeds the equally inspiring "Butterflies". The album closer wastes no time in building on an epic beat and one of the heaviest guitar tones used in anything Cunningham has been involved in. It explores almost every musical influence you can think of that has been linked to Purson et al, but doesn't sound in any way cluttered and instead uses it's multi-part format to maintain the listener's interest until the dramatic, atmospheric end.
Rosalie Cunningham's solo debut effort is a real charmer of a record, and though it is more exploratory and open to various influences, the fact remains that this is all still inspired by the sweet sounds of the late 60s. Nobody is complaining however, given that a very clean production and enjoyable soulful performance offers up arguably some of the strongest material Cunningham has written. Here's hoping we get more.