Rosa Rebecka
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Rosa Rebecka

Okehampton, England, United Kingdom | SELF

Okehampton, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Folk Acoustic


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"Honest, heartfelt, simply beautiful"

The plaintive, eerie sound of a singing bowl opened the launch of Untold, the brand-new album from Rosa Rebecka, at the Barbican Theatre.

Played by the lady herself as part of Shema, a traditional Jewish tune from the album, it was a haunting introduction to the set, which then morphed into the more lively but equally mesmeric album opener Om Alla Berg Och Bachar.

AA Swedish folk song, sung in her native tongue, this, like her other offerings from her home country, induced that spooky hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck sensation. This is perhaps partly because, as Rosa herself pointed out, when her audience can't understand the words she feels inclined to deliver the song with even more emotion. You could read so much from the expression on her face, which simply radiated positive energy.

An ex-pupil of Dartington and now a singing teacher, Rosa sure knows how to use her voice to dramatic effect, as she demonstrated throughout her set, often starting at barely a whisper before crescendoing to full throttle with consummate ease.

While her phrasing and interval-hopping at times likened her vocal delivery to that of Joni Mitchell, the purity and richness of her tone was more akin to a blend of Joan Baez and Mary Hopkin: and, indeed, the most powerful moment for me was when she abandoned all accompaniment to deliver a capella the traditional Swedish folk song Jag Unnar Dig Anda Allt Gott, which was simpley breath-taking.

Of course the whole show was embellished hugely by the inclusion of five of Rosa's musical colleagues who helped out big-time on the album. Becki Driscoll and Nick Wyke performed beautifully both together and separately on fiddles to complement the vocal, Georgie Watts impressed greatly on vibes - especially when she took out her bow - Rowan Massey added rich deep tones on double bass, and Paul Wilson added a little exotic colour on piano accordion.

The Power Of Gentle, Rosa's last song, seemed the most heartfelt and poignant of all. It was dedicated to her friends who had helped her through a particularly tough time in her life and I suspect mine wasn't the only moist eye in the house on hearing it.

It came at the end of a refreshingly pure and honest performance, with an uplifting triumph-over-adversity vibe. It was a performance that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Clare Robinson - The Herald

"Rosa Rebecka Untold"

Rosa Rebecka, the daughter of Swedish and American parents, moved from Sweden to Devon at the age of nineteen to study music. Still residing in Devon, and possibly inspired by the local scenery, she has just released her second album, Untold,which reveals a singer-songwriter with a strong, unaffected, and personal style.

Her voice is soft and warm, embracing you with an easy vibrato. She plays the guitar with a picking style reminiscent of 1960s folk singers; not obtrusively - it's just the right way. She also plays flawless flute and further accompaniment comes from strings, accordion, electric tremolo guitar, woodwind, vibraphone and percussion.

Rebecka's Swedish roots are most apparent on the traditional Swedish songs. These are performed with rhythmic and catchy fiddle playing, a capella or, as on "Gladjens Blomster", with a driving flute and bodhran combination. She has also successfully translated and interpreted the lyrics into English, making the songs more accessible to non-Swedish speaking audiences.

The lyrics are a central part of Rebecka's own songs. They are often serious and emotional but, as on "Raggle Taggle", a living part of the storytelling tradition. She also reveals a spiritual kinship with the likes of Kate Bush. This makes itself most known on the glissando of "Boundless" and, particularly, on the mysterious "Purple", a hauntingly beautiful song and arguably the best on the album.

Lars Fahlin - Rock n Reel Magazine

"Rosa Rebecka Untold"

Take a girl born in Sweden to a Swede and an American, transplant her to Devon and leave to simmer for ten years and what do you get? A Quite lovely album in the shape of Untold, which has flavours of Vashti Bunyan and Nick Drake in its nylon-string guitar, callo and flute flavours and pastoral melodies. Rebecka has a lovely voice and the lyrical content and melodies stay just the right side of too sweet. This is wonderful sunny-afternoon music. Buy it and go lie in a field in the sunshine to listen. You may never come back!

Sam Wise - Acoustic Magazine

"Rosa Rebecka UNTOLD Review"

by Michael Quinn
05 June 2008

Three years in the making, Rosa Rebecka's second studio album is crammed with beguiling, lovely self-penned songs. Shot through with shards of bittersweet regret about places and people loved, lost and now lamented, Untold showcases a distinctive talent.

Based in Devon and of Swedish-American parentage, Rebecka has a lyrical, sun-dappled and golden voice, tinged with a hint of steely moonlight that brings to mind Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, although she is decidedly less mannered than both. Happily, she also refuses the assumptions of martyrdom, actual or vicarious, that her illustrious predecessors were prone to.

If anything, Untold is a markedly lighter album than 2003's debut Water Carvings and 2005's Live: Boundless And More. But it is alike in being packed with well-crafted tracks, beautifully delivered.

Three traditional Swedish songs, prime among them the heart-rending Jag Unnar Dig Ändå Allt Gott, sung in both Swedish and English, and the traditional Jewish song, Shema, add their own touches of exotica to proceedings. But it is Rebecka's own material that compels the attention here.

Heartfelt and haunting in equal measure, Purple catches the emotional ambiguity at the heart of Rebecka’s world just as Boundless proves a sublime hymnal. On Forgiveness is moving and powerful in its plaintive under-statedness, while in contrast, Raggle Taggle is a bright and buoyant tale of the enduring quality of love.

Rob Waite's production eloquently frames Rebecka's voice with the simplest of acoustic arrangements, her self-accompaniment on guitar deliciously ornamented by Georgie Watts on vibraphone, Paul Wilson’s piano accordion, fiddle players Becki Driscoll and Nick Wyke, and the warm resonant double bass of Rowan Massey.

On the strength of this offering, another three-year wait for new material from Rebecka would be a cruel delay. Expect to see and hear much more of this fresh and altogether captivating talent.

- BBC Music website


Water Carvings (2003)
Live: Boundless and More (2005)
Untold (2008)
Songs For Mrs. Beautiful (2012)



Half American and half Swedish, Rosa Rebecka grew up among the lakes and forests of southern Sweden. She sang with her family from an early age, wrote songs from the age of five, and learned to play flute and guitar. She left Sweden for England to study music at Dartington, and stayed on to work as a community musician for folk music chairty Wren Music, leading choirs and music workshops, and performing her own songs as well as Swedish and English traditional music.

Rosa Rebecka’s performances combine original songs with traditional music from Sweden, performed on voice, guitar, flute, singing bowl and mbira. Her influences include various folk singers, with the most noticeable inspiration coming from the early music of Joni Mitchell. Her sets are mellow and intimate, gently telling stories with songs described by NetRhythms as ‘intensely beautiful’, as well as getting her audiences to take part, clapping and stamping to the exhilarating rhythm of the Swedish polska.

In 2003, she recorded Water Carvings, a collection of songs exploring love and loss, made in memory of her late husband Tom, who died of cancer earlier that year. A live album, Boundless and More, recorded on Eliza Carthy’s tour, followed in 2005. She released her second studio album Untold in 2008, contrasting her own compositions with arrangements of traditional Swedish music, leading BBC Music to hail her as a ‘fresh and altogether captivating talent’.

Her most recent album, Songs for Mrs Beautiful, is named after her great-grandmother Katrina Fhager. The title track tells of her life, untimely death, and a precious heirloom: she left her guitar to her daughter, and it has been passed from mother to daughter ever since. “I may have this guitar to thank for my existence” says Rosa. “When my parents met, it was my mother’s singing and guitar playing that left a lasting impression on my father.” Following the release, Rosa was nominated for Best Acoustic Act in the 2012 South West Music Awards.

Rosa Rebecka still makes music for Wren, but she now also works as a freelance singing practitioner, running choirs and workshops, and giving individual tuition. This social aspect of music-making complements her song-writing and performances, which see her reaching audiences across the South West and beyond as a singer/songwriter.