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: discogs.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.

Tracklist:

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


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