Richie & Rosie – Nowhere in Time
Self-Released – 10 November 2017
The Internet is a wonderful thing and crowd-funding may be one of the better things on it, especially if you want to make an album, and retain control over how you want it. That is what Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton have done, raising funds to produce Nowhere In Time, their second studio album.
I really like this stripped-down, acoustic sound relying on the plucking of strings and the scraping of bows giving much more than just the musical note. The album is well-balanced, with a mix of songs and tunes that give a very clear picture of who Richie and Rosie are and what they are about.
Glory In The Meeting House, the first of the four tunes on the album, has its origins in Kentucky and as the second track is a great foil for the opening, title track, and the one that follows; a filling of sharp pickle between two slices of rye. Brushy Fork of John’s Creek, another Kentucky tune, has its origins in a skirmish during the American Civil War and it is easy to picture the short but intense meeting of swords and men. Nitches Over The Hill hails from Virginia and Farewell to Trion, the slowest of the four, comes from Alabama. These four, all in the Old Time Breakdown style are spread across the album, acting as punctuation points. The thing that ties them together is the quality of the playing, the pulse daring the feet to stay still – and quite a treat if you mix them to follow each other.
There are also four songs that are not from Richie and Rosie’s pen. Cold Mountain is traditional, though some (well, a few) may recall Pentangle had a version on the B-side of Light Flight; I must say that I much prefer this new one. It’s Me Again Lord is a well-known Bluegrass Gospel song but this pared-back sound gives it an edge that is not always there in other versions, helped by the loss of that sugary sentimentality that often accompanies Southern Gospel. I’ll Be Here In The Morning is a fine example of a different edge, this time through the lyrics of Townes Van Zandt, words that leave the listener contemplating the ambiguity of the message. More ambiguity in the last of this quartet is Dirk Powell’s Waterbound. It is one of those songs that start out in a rational way but by the end you are left wondering… The archetypal folk song perhaps? It premiered here on Folk Radio UK in September:
The remaining songs are from Richie Stearns with the exception of No Longer Lonely. This rare co-written song comes from Rosie, written after a close friend died. It has the sound and spirit of a hymn from the opening bars – which is not unusual I suppose when you consider the number of great hymn tunes that had their origins in the folk tunes of the day – and so carries that feeling even if the words are more personal, less ecclesiastical. Honey Bee, by contrast, is a love song asking a lover to return, having been “Pulled by the moon and the waves of the sea”. We are told that Richie wrote this to “lure” his girlfriend back to the East Coast but we are not told whether this was successful.
Golden Bear has the feel of being a version of a traditional tale. This is particularly so as it opens with “a raven singing songs to a passing bear”, both characters common in North American indigenous peoples creation folklore. Was it the raven, the mischievous creator who stepped too far? (And a nod to Richie for rhyming raven with craving.)
Perhaps we should not make anything of the age differences but as their website points out, there are a couple of decades between Richie and Rosie. This point does allow me to move on to the title track, Nowhere in Time. Richie, the senior member, apparently had a call from AARP, an American organisation who drive social impact for the over-50s. A bit like SAGA but less about cruise ships and more about making a difference. The request was to write a song about life after 50 and the result has him standing in the middle of a timeline that is, of course, indefinable. He starts with the fact that he will not be around in 100 years time, and that even 100 years ago, when he was not present either, people were asking the same questions: “Where do we come from? Where do we go?” In fact, such questions have always been asked. However, there comes a time when we realise how big time is and how small we are:
I ain’t going nowhere
Nowhere in time
I am only here right now
Yet this is not necessarily a concern, more an acceptance and that even if some do have other explanations, what is important is that
I am yours and your are mine
But sometimes I wonder
If stories told are true
We’re a part of everything
And I’m a part of you.
Nowhere In Time is a lovely track to start this album, an album of songs and tunes of variety and clarity with elements of reflection. Give it a go.
Visit their website on November 10th, to purchase the CD along with news of their vinyl release.