P. O. Box 9974
Asheville, NC 28815
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch
If you like David Wilcox you'll also like Chris Rosser. The similarity in their voices, singing, and guitar playing is so great I wondered in one of the songs (Faraway Train in which Wilcox appears as a backing musician) if it wasn't a duet.
Chris Rosser is a multi-instrumentalist. He plays guitars, sitars, bass, recorder, cittern, and another dozen instruments on Archaeology. He is a multi-talented guy who has been collecting awards since 1994, including New Folk finalist at Kerrville Folk Festival, 1996, Troubadour finalist at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 1995 & 1996, his song The Living In Me (which I think is the best song in this CD), selected for EcoMusic's 1996 environmental awareness recording, first place in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the Merle Watson Memorial Festival, 1995 (second place in 1994) and first place award in Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest, 1994.
This is quite impressive for a 27 year old songwriter. But... the overall impression I get from this disc is that Rosser has done his homework very well, that he is a good pupil of Wilcox and others (Brooks Williams comes to mind) but he has yet to find his own voice.
By one of those cosmic coincidences the first song Follow the Water Down seems to be a song about the death of the young singer songwriter Jeff Buckley, though it was obviously written before his recent drowning:
|Down this river of madness |
we race and spin
two heads above the surface
in a desperate swim
Of course this song is not only about drowning in waters, but also in life, which seems to be what happened to the hypersensitive Buckley. In Dancing Dervish and In Everything (Momsoma) Rosser tries to bring a world music instrumentation, including dumbeck, dabul, sitar, kalimba, etc... It reminds one of Tony Bird or Paul Simon's Graceland. These are, to my ears, the weakest songs in Archaeology. The experiments are interesting and may lead to something in the future, but in this album the dervish seems to be dancing paso doble. Maybe Rosser should do a trip to Mevlana. I think he might come back with a great song.
The songs in the album are not personal- Rosser is not a confessional songwriter. His is a more philosophical style. In his best song The Living In Me, the only one in this album with only voice and guitar, he sings:
|This river runs deeper |
than any street I've ever known
It cuts into my heart
like that canyon down below
so may this land stretch forever
may these hills be ever green...
Featured in Archaeology are many guest musicians including Lynn Rosser, David Wilcox, Christine Kane, The Nudes, Billy Jonas, Mary Davis, Anne Lalley, Marshall Ballew and Nance Pettit.
All in all this is an interesting debut album, and it shows possibilities in the artist. Chris Rosser is obviously a singer songwriter to watch, and someone from whom we can expect great songs in the future.
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Edited by Kerry Dexter