RosaWay – Stranger (Infinity Gritty/Ropeadope Records)

Stéphane Avellaneda will be familiar to many readers.  I remember first seeing him as the new drummer behind Ana Popovic some years ago now.  My thoughts then were that he was a rock drummer and that he was LOUD too!.  After a couple of shows though, it became apparent that Stéphane could also play subtle accompaniments too, and was a man always ready to experiment a little with the sound.  Of course, within the confines of the Ana Popovic Band, it was the lady in charge who dictated the shots.  Fair enough, it’s her band and her songs.  Fast forward to 2019, and with Ana Popovic now ripping it up a storm Stateside for much of the year with her band, Stéphane has taken the opportunity to team up with French vocalist/flautist Rachel Ombredane to make an intriguing debut disc via Kickstarter donations.  The result is a duo named RosaWay and an excellent Jazz/Synthpop EP named ‘Stranger’

As a whole, the disc ‘Stranger’ is a mix of styles that in itself reflects the mixed styles of the duo themselves.  Rachael has an enchanting French/English pronunciation and an additional flute sound gives the tracks both an exotic feel and an individual identity.  That is important here too as there is a danger of the whole project sounding like a 21st Century re-hash of 80’s synthpop.  The title track certainly leans towards The Eurythmics classic ‘Sweet Dreams’ stylistically.

Stéphane in a more familiar role to fans in Bonn – with Ana Popovic in 2015

The start of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (no, not the George Harrison classic!) takes me momentarily back to those early heavy hitting days with the APB, and when the synth kicks in I’m half expecting some heavy rhythmed hard rock along the ‘We Will Rock You’ lines, but, in typical RosAway fashion, the music suddenly heads off in a far funkier direction – and a flute solo…  This duo dares to be different.  Indeed, it’s odd that someone who makes a living playing live drums should be programming synthesizers for the rhythm.  But then again, maybe not so odd – Stéphane is clearly drawn to rhythm, it’s in his blood, it’s what he loves, and it’s what drives everything on this excellent disc.  It’s certainly no surprise then that the final track on this EP is actually titled ‘Rhythm of the Night’.  It’s a Funky hard-hitter that would have gone down a storm in 80’s discos.  It may well go down a storm in discos today too if given the chance.  There is a tempo that certainly gets the feet tapping and wanting to find a dance floor, not to mention that click sound that has fingers wanting to flick together in harmony.  “There’s something in the Air”  sings Rachel, and there certainly is – RHYTHM!

 

Oddly, although the disc only has three tunes, there’s a bonus track available as a free download.  It was recorded later than the others so I guess it was a financial decision when the original disc came out.  Whatever, ‘Freedom’  was recorded in NYC at the PINCH recording studio and with collaborations from Infinity Gritty who describe themselves as ‘an eclectic record label’ and ‘RopeaDope’ a record label that prides itself on its website as being able to “view the world as a place …where music is a unifying force connecting all of us. We accept that musicians know their art better than businessmen do”.

 

Certainly, RosaWay know their Art and are bravely going to musical places where few have gone before and coming up with a fresh sound along the way.

 

To really know where they are at, and hear the full potential, it’s the extra bonus track that hints at possible future greatness for the duo.  ‘Freedom’ is a place where eerie sounds pervade, and where classical flute meets experimental Jazz at a crossroads somewhere in a musical suburb I will call Synth city.  It’s a place where there is a sand(sound)box of that rare attribute of music these days – innovation.  I would love to catch the duo at a Jazz club where they can stretch out their collective musical imaginations to their full potential.

 

Small complaint:  I really loved Rosaway’s version of ‘St James Infirmary’ which they made into a video, and would love it to have been included here.  Hopefully, there will be enough interest in the duo through the current disc and touring to allow them to spend more time recording for the next release.  In a time of so much uninspired throwaway music, we need creative people like Stéphane and Rachel more than ever!

For more on RosaWay and where to buy/download the new disc click HERE

 

 

 

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