Rosemary & Garlic - Rosemary & Garlic - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Rosemary & Garlic - Rosemary & Garlic

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2018-01-12
Rosemary & Garlic - Rosemary & Garlic
Rosemary & Garlic - Rosemary & Garlic

Rosemary & Garlic. Sounds like something from a Francois Vatel recipe book for those banquets that famous cook prepared for Louis XIV. Actually, it is a name of the Dutch duo of vocalist Anne van der Hoogen and multi-instrumentalist Dolf Smolenaers and their debut album. They did have an EP a few years back but to those not too keen on Spotify, they might not sound like a familiar name, even in The Netherlands. But obviously, Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride follows the online behemoth, as do about seven million other listeners, as that is the number of streams one of their songs got.

Sounds a bit like PR hype, but listening to Rosemary & Garlic you don’t get that impression. Van der Hooghen was a student of literary history, and an obvious lover of previous centuries, maybe not the 17th of Vatel and the Sun King, but certainly of the 18th and Romanticism, not only in music but art in general. That's the feeling you get from this album, whose mainly acoustic instrumentation underpinned by subtle electronic embellishments do indeed give you that feeling.

The music, which is dominated by van der Hooghen’s great vocals, is quite reminiscent of rock/folk’s other romantics like Nick Drake, Sufjan Stevens and particularly Virginia Astley, particularly her masterpiece From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. But the duo is not holding blindly to any of their influences or mentioned names, and uses them only as a starting point to come up with something specifically their own.

It is quite delicate early morning/late night music, that is, well, romantic. The key point being that Rosemary & Garlic are able to press exactly the right emotional buttons without going overboard, like putting too many spoons of sugar in their milk and tea. Perfect examples are the single “I’m Here” and even more delicate “Take This Hand”.

More importantly, the quality of music and musicianship is so high that there’s no song here that either drags on or falls under a certain level, making the album a very consistent listen. When you get the sense that things may fall due to gentle tempos, the duo comes up with a more uptempo number like “Fireflies” (light shades of Cocteau Twins) that shows that they certainly do not have a limited musical palette.

Such a nice (and gentle) way to start a new year.

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