Rose Polenzani
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Rose Polenzani

Band Folk Americana


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"‘August’ CD Review"

(March 2006)
Reviewed by Luke Crisell.

Sometimes the very best records pass you by. And often, they pass major labels by, too. Despite having released three albums on indie imprint Daemon, Rose Polenzani chose to release her best album to date, August, all on her own at the end of 2004, and it remains unsigned, which is, quite frankly, a travesty. A lilting, charming treasure of a record, August entirely validates the comparisons that have been made between Polenzani and Nick Drake- every utterance and pluck of her guitar string is heavy with such uninhibited emotion that at times the fragile song structures hardly seem able to support their weight. Recorded entirely in her bedroom and living room, August is suffused with an organic innocence- an acoustic sparseness that accentuates the poetry of Polenzani’s lyrics. Although she looks set to receive more notice as the “freak folk” movement continues to garner attention, Polenzani has the maturity and gift to remain important long after this particular craze has lost its luster. Track yourself down a copy of August now. - Nylon Magazine

""Misfit of Virtue""

(September 21, 2005)

Like armchair travel through a newly-carved glacial valley, Rose Polenzani’s fourth solo album, August, has a hushed itinerant quality that throws wide open the world, yet mostly remains cosily in an intimate comfort zone. With the wow and flutter of her earlier work all but assuaged – there’s nothing here as tummy-tighteningly gripping as, say, Shake Through To Ugly from 1999’s Anybody – August is Polenzani’s melodic nucleus come to fruition.

Recorded entirely in her bedroom on 4- and 8-track recorders, these twelve persuasive songs are both as spare and yet far more pithy than that might suggest. Polenzani has always been an acute and lively lyricist, and the sentient imagery she brings to songs like The First Time and & These Hands infuse and lift them above their delicate beginnings. Elsewhere, on the decidedly unsettling diptych of How Shall I Love Thee? and Girl, she quietly rages, audibly struggling with her own mixed emotions. Best of all is the charming Rolling Suitcase. Sure, it may in fact be about locking a boyfriend in the wardrobe, but it’s so sweetly offset by toy percussion and romantic French accordion that you almost don’t notice.

The one cover here is of little-known US singer-songwriter Josh Cole, who also adds his warped harmonica to the atmospherics of How Shall I Love Thee?. From the title in, his Easter Hymn is something of a religious experience in itself as he softly trades harmonies with Rose over gently plucked acoustics. Like Tori Amos, Polenzani has never shied away from mingling the sacred with the profane, but August seems to revel in a more humbled stance. Where many of her earlier songs have been heavy with passion originating from “a guilt-regret-religious-fervour-type feeling”, tracks like Easter Hymn and Sometimes appear more mature and accepting of her beliefs. That said, Explain It To Me bears a hint of her former unease, and this is complemented by keyboard sounds like a church organ possessed. It’s a definite progression.

It’s somewhat redundant to say that this is Rose Polenzani’s most consistent album to date – all of them impress – but it is, and there’s a seemingly simple explanation. Having held her own whilst touring as a member of Voices On The Verge (alongside Erin McKeown, Jess Klein and Beth Amsel), in addition to her spiritual growth, the Rose Polenzani of August seems more confident. In her own quiet way, she sounds larger than ever before, cleverly trading off the value of understatement. It’s a neat and beautiful trick and one that demands recognition. - Wears the Trousers (UK mag)


"When the River Meets the Sea" - 2008
"August" - 2004
"Rose Polenzani" - 2001 (Daemon Records)
"Voices on the Verge" - 2001 (Rykodisc)
"Anybody" - 1999 (Daemon Records)
"Dragersville" - 1998



Rose's song "You Were Drunk" was just named "Best New Song" at Mountain Stage Newsong contest 2008!

Rose Polenzani was first noticed for her 1998 unanimous win in the Chicago Lilith Fair competition, closely followed by her debut at the Newport Folk Festival. She spent several years touring and recording, moving from her native Chicago to California to Boston, where she has was recently nominated for Best Female Vocalist in the 2007 Boston Music Awards. Rose has released records both privately and on labels such as Rykodisc and Daemon Records.

"When the River Meets the Sea" (titled after a Paul Williams song which appears on the album) is a sonic departure for Rose Polenzani: a collaboration with Boston Phenomenon Session Americana. The six members of Session Americana made their name playing music around a small table at the back of a tiny bar in the Porter Square neighborhood of Cambridge. The band, comprised of “the cream of the Somerville/Cambridge roots music community” (says No Depression magazine), would play just about any song that came into their heads, and they would also invite whoever might squeeze in through the front door (it was always packed) to sit down at the table and have a spin. One night it was Rose Polenzani.

From the first moment, it clicked between Rose and Session. They weren't just her backing band and she wasn't just sitting in. Out of the spontaneity (and joy!) they shared was born this CD.

To capture that feel Rose and the band turned to Hi n' Dry, (now defunct, but) a truly unique loft/recording studio established by Morphine founder Mark Sandman. The studio itself was structured towards live, one-room recording, with the “first take” often held up like a holy grail. With the help of that rich, red, history-soaked loft, Billy Conway as producer, Matt Malikowski as engineer, and about 20 microphones, they were able to recreate that live feel.

Not only was "When the River Meets the Sea" recorded live in the studio, but each of the songs captured on the album were introduced to the band and special guests no more than an hour before they were recorded. You can almost hear the arrangements’ organic emergence as the songs rise out of the sonic dust. All those present were free to play any of the studio's instruments, from a grand piano to a toy piano to a vibraphone, and from over a dozen guitars. The resulting musical arrangements stand as unrepeatable works of chance, friendship, and artistry.