Review: Jon DeRosa - Anchored EP (2011) 1

artist: Jon DeR­osa
release: Anchored EP
format: CD
year of release: 2011
label: Sil­ber
dur­a­tion: 16:37

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Jon DeR­osa, whom most people might know from his pro­ject Aark­t­ica, takes a musical break from his usual com­bin­a­tion of dense guitar-driven ambi­ent and indie rock songs and turns instead to more open and spa­cious com­pos­i­tions. The four richly arranged songs on this first eponym­ous EP build in part on the goth folk of Jon’s old pro­ject Dead Leaves Rising and the amer­ic­ana of Pale Horse and Rider, but mostly tread new ground. This EP is an example of won­der­ful the format can be; the freedom to really select a couple of excel­lent songs and present them without and filler mater­ial. The short dur­a­tion is no obstacle, because this is one to just put on repeat and play often.

The open­ing title track is a slow waltz on clean elec­tric gui­tar, with Jon’s voice sound­ing warmer than ever. The song is sup­ple­men­ted with won­der­ful arrange­ments for strings (Julia Kent on cello) and horns (Jon Natchez), and the descrip­tion of “cham­ber pop” as sug­ges­ted by the label seems quite accur­ate. The fol­low­ing tracks offer many dif­fer­ent high­lights after this lovely opener. “Snow Coffin” is a very uplift­ing up-tempo track where the drums are a bit more prom­in­ent, march­ing proudly on like the sol­dier brother the song is ded­ic­ated to. We are also treated to won­der­ful double-voiced end­ing fea­tur­ing Lor­raine Lelis, a long-time Aark­t­ica col­lab­or­ator. The dark and gloomy acous­tic “Ladies in Love” is almost a return to the folky styl­ings of Dead Leaves Rising, but with the matur­ity of over ten years of addi­tional musical exper­i­ence. The almost 17-minute EP ends with “Sub­mar­ine Bells”, a cover taken from the 1990 album of the same name by The Chills. DeR­osa stays pretty faith­ful to the lush orches­tra­tion of the ori­ginal, but def­in­itely makes it his own by vir­tue of his voice. Regard­less, it is a won­der­ful com­pos­i­tion, poetic and romantic, and the ver­sion on Anchored is more than worthy.

Apart from the qual­ity of the indi­vidual tracks, the best thing about this EP is how DeR­osa effort­lessly shifts musical gear and deliv­ers a cel­eb­ra­tion of song in a very pure form. There aren’t that many con­crete genre trap­pings here, though clas­sic Amer­ican pop from early last cen­tury is a prom­in­ent one, and it sounds per­fectly at home in 2011, at least in this form. No need for any spe­cific target-group recom­mend­a­tions here. This is simply a beau­ti­ful release, so go have a listen. I hope it is a pre­cursor of more to come.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Anchored (4:43)
2. Snow Coffin (4:28)
3. Ladies In Love (3:31)
4. Sub­mar­ine Bells (3:55)