But damn if Chris Rosser doesn’t have a remarkable talent for consistently crafting great music
On Hidden Everywhere, Rosser delivers those elements we’ve come to expect over the course of his solo albums: finely tuned storytelling, exemplary guitar playing and intimate vocal delivery. But this time he mixes in some stuff you might not expect- the jazz inflected pop of Steely Dan makes a few appearances, along with the worldly influences of his other project, Free Planet Radio. FPR’s Eliot Wadopian and River Guerguerian also join Rosser on upright and electric bass and percussion, respectively. Beth Wood, Stephanie Corby and Lynn Morgan Rosser appear on backup vocals as well, providing tight harmony sparkle and bluesy wail on the opener “Favorite Part” and “Brilliant In The Dark.”
Rosser’s dedication to the study of Indian music, and his prowess on many of its traditional instruments is seamlessly integrated into several tunes, as on “Before The Locusts” and the deeply personal “Boy With The Broken Heart.” As time has passed, it seems Rosser’s abilities as a writer and musician have somehow become both more refined and more impressive- anyone that’s seen him live would likely use the word “effortless” to describe his playing. Now, the music sounds like it just falls off him, the writing, arrangements and melodic content stronger than ever. “Broken Wing” is a flawless snapshot of the kind of fusion Rosser is now capable of, merging the digital elements with the organic, mixing hypnotic and exotic melody with liquid washes of electric guitar and woody acoustic.
We also get to hear more of Rosser’s piano and keyboard chops here, and it reflects a side that we don’t get to see in his mostly acoustic solo shows: he can flat burn, like some prodigal hybrid with the melodic savvy of earlier James Taylor and Donald Fagan’s modal wit. His concise but adventurous soloing on opening cut, well hell, the whole groove is a less than subtle hint that he’s much more than an “acoustic folkie.” The catch is that it’s still totally Chris Rosser, not the old one trying on a new pair of shoes. We just don’t get to see these particular shoes very often.
So the ups are tempered with the downs on Hidden Everywhere, the bounce of one song followed by the somber drift of the next. Songs like “Natural Wonder” and “How Much Can One Heart Take” remind us that all isn’t always well in the world, but Rosser has a gift for stitching a silver lining into those slate grays, so even the prerequisite “sad songs” don’t leave you whimpering in the corner. And even if you do happen to whimper a little, the next tune will probably help you get over it.
Chris Rosser is simply a stunningly talented individual — there’s not much more to add to it. Hidden Everywhere will have no problem finding it’s way into the ears of many, many people, earning new fans and making old ones all the more aware of the many colors he’s got on his palette. You can grab this gem of a CD online at CDbaby now, but those of you with patience can head out to the official release party at the Grey Eagle Music Hall on Sept. 1 to see Rosser and Free Planet Radio weave these tunes live.