“Louis Rosen is a highly literate singer-songwriter whose musical oeuvre seems set in the late 1960s when the breed was more common.” (From my last review of a CD by this artist.) He’s also a meticulous arranger. Repeated listening finds both music and meaning enriched by collusion of sound. Though not all about the artist himself, songs are again personal.
“Love and Ashes” is a smoky meditation: The beauty of life and the heartbreak of living are one…I look in the mirror/What do I see?/It’s all love and ashes-to me. Trumpet and flute emerge as if from the other side. Whether you recollect a finished affair or the tightrope of relationships, it’s impossible not to relate. “He’d Rather Not Think About Her” is raw and sad; a haunted, velvet vocal. Strings feel caressed. Breath slows. Rosen seems always to have a foot in shadows.
“Last Chance Marie” is a story song, a bit Springsteenish, a bit western: Life happens by happenstance/ Say your goodbye/Marie, it’s our last chance… Understated horns and violin lilt. Music describes what seems like the dying Texas town in a black and white movie. Its couple face anxious choice. “The Day After Christmas Day” looks back smiling, inspired by the artist’s own wedding and trip to Brooklyn: They found a barroom dance floor/Where they tumbled and twirled/They could have been anywhere…this young and clueless pair…It’s sentimental, paternal. Horns make it happy.
“Notre Dame is Burning”/Flames consume the air/Gargoyles shake and/Timbers quake/Hearts break everywhere…This one’s an anthem for the age; a prayer, incantation of the tribe. The world, the country, your neighborhood, so much one can’t escape seeing if not experiencing- about which we feel impotent: Through the mire/We’ll fight the fire/But where do we begin?…It echoes in the hallowed halls of cathedral earth.
“Tender Eyes” and “Just a Summer Rain” are painterly ballads. The first, almost whispered, is romantic, wistful. Strings and flute soar above hills, a country landscape that goes on forever…like memories. The second features Haiku-like images. Even regrets are lazy and lovely. Rosen is economic in his visions. Music illuminates as much, if not more than lyrics.
Love is “Not for the Faint of Heart” should be embroidered on pillows, printed on bumper stickers. The music’s hips move rhythmically: Timing is everything/Timing is everything/Timing is everything… it intones like a mantra. We see both sides of a remorseful mirror.
The CD is good company. Pour yourself a glass.
The album can also be downloaded from there, and by mid-May, from all major digital outlets, iTunes, Amazon.com etc., or streamed from all streaming services.