New York quartet The Rosewood Thieves have mightily bounced back from the collapse of the band’s former label V2 Records. The glitz and glamour of the Big Apple wasn’t as big an influence on the foursome as you would expect for two reasons.
One, the band isn’t from the city, but further north where the hustle and bustle were a lot more subdued in the small town of Deposit. Two, that distance from the biggest city in the world somewhat disconnected them from that hyperkinetic energy associated with a place that never sleeps. That’s not to say the band doesn’t have energy, it does. It’s just not New York energy.
An accurate description would be Bob Dylan energy, at the rock legend’s current age of 66. While it’s not very fair to compare the physical energy levels of a man recently hit the legal retirement age to a group of twentysomethings, the energy they do share is both musically and emotionally comparable. Listening to “Untitled #1” you can instantly hear the connections between styles: simplistic and raw, not to mention the similarities between singer/songwriter Erick Jordan’s voice to Dylan’s, sometimes even down to certain vocal inflections.
The Rosewood Thieves test their range in the bare bones “California Moon” with Erick’s almost a cappella intro before a slow crescendo into an equally slow but fading decrescendo. The song’s end is a perfect example of the band’s brilliance in simplicity. You almost get taken back, imagining yourself walking with a pretty girl (or boy) along the beach watching waves crash on the sand under the moonlight.
The other side of the band is its grit. RT isn’t afraid at showing its heart, exuding passion in “Murder Ballad In G Minor” (mp3 can be downloaded here) with the song’s message of abuse and revenge: “When she was young she was left on the steps of a church, But nobody would take her, not even the priest.”
Another band that comes to mind when listening to The Rosewood Thieves is Great Lake Swimmers. Both bands are able to create a lot of depth in their music despite the absence of many instruments. Although unlike GLW’s depth which is more ambiance-filling, RT leans more toward vibe-sensing. In “Honey, Stay Awhile” the man’s ardor is clearly felt and at just the right beat, not too mopey and just the exact touch of clingy.
MacKenzie Vernacchio (organ), Paul Jenkins (guitar, bass), and Mark Bordenet (drums) are the other members of the band and they make some of the band’s best music when performing a sing-along like the EP’s closing “A Bullet Painted Red.” It almost takes you back to those campfire nights with your friends, only thinking of being around nature and not of city life. Surrounded by people you care about, covered by towering trees, sitting on dirt, and lighted only by fire doesn’t get more instinctually bare than that.