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ROSIE MAY – Too Far To Swim EP

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If you’re an alcoholic it’s likely that Rosie May’s EP Too Far To Swim will quench your musical thirst and also result in further addiction, due to the following two reasons – firstly, it may be that you’ve become an alcoholic whilst you yearn for your absent lover to return to you. If this depressing speculation is correct you will find that the four track EP discusses that very subject. Rosie May balances emotion with restraint to create music which may reduce you to tears and then distract with its technical excellence.

Secondly the EP’s faithful consistency to it’s theme has resulted in the creation of it’s very own drinking game; players are told to drink when anything water related features in the lyrics, for example sea, ocean or waves. These words come up a lot, so prepared to get hammered using a respectable but very niche method.

This debut release will impress you at whatever level of intoxication you happen to be, particularly if you value lyrics or vocals. In terms of her writing, Rosie May has achieved something incredibly rare; she blurs the distinction between lyrics and poetry. The obvious dedication to the EP’s concept replicates the feeling of purpose and active decision within some pretentious poetry collections. However, Rosie May’s lyrics avoid becoming ornate due to the ease with which her water based imagery and metaphors mix with realism that focuses on emotion. The vocals enhance this pairing as her stunning, but pained voice communicates her discomfort and sadness at being separated, and her joy at the possibility of being re-united.

This Shell of Mine – This is the most up-beat of the four songs and yet the lyrics introduce the basis for insecurity and doubt “And what should I be with so little left of me/When over there is you and all the rest of me?” However there is synergy between the music’s pace increasing, the subtle use of clapping and the lyrics becoming more hopeful and resolved, “And what should I do when everything is cut/My heart may be halved by you but broken I am not/And what should be done when all I have is none/I will not crawl inside this shell I have become.” This is a folk equivalent of any of the songs in Beyonce’s sassy, self-belief filled discography and deserves an earnest, you go girl type approval.

Odds and Oceans – Comparisons to other female singers are reasonably unnecessary as Rosie May’s EP has hints of originality, but the beginning of this song is undeniably reminiscent of Feist. However, the song progresses and escapes this admittedly impressive similarity, as Rosie May’s vocal regains variation and power. Odds and Oceans should be highly praised for being the most accomplished sounding track on the EP. The use of brush strokes on a snare drum which creates a wave sound stays on the right side of charming, rather than cliché, and the guitar solo towards the end is memorable due to it’s beauty and simplicity.

Lost at Sea – This is most obvious song lyrically, with lines such as “Far is my dear foreign land/Where my love awaits on golden sands/He waits with open hands”, but due to repeating impact of the drums and Rosie May’s pleading vocals of “Throw me back in” followed by the fading of both elements, this song becomes surprisingly moving.

Water is Wide – The last song of Too Far To Swim is a traditional folk song chosen for the EP and given a musical arrangement by producer Jackson Dimiglio-Wood. Rosie May’s harmonies are faultless and transfixing; expect goosebumps, shivers and fits of anger that your voice will never sound that beautiful in that many different ways, no matter how much Beyonce inspired self-belief you have.

The beauty of Rosie May’s voice throughout Too Far To Swim is certainly notable, but what makes this EP distinct from other music being created by female voices is the intelligence and poetic lyrics, exemplary production and the obvious potential. It’s a good sign when the only major criticism of an EP is that it doesn’t feel long enough. The concept of the EP may have limited it beyond four songs, but it’s very likely that the potential of the Rosie May and her band, Albert Hockin – drummer and Josh Law – bassist, also in The Surgeons, will lead them to a point where their talent fills an entire album with the same level of quality and even more originality.

[Rating:4]

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.