(Memphis Industries, out Fri 5 Apr 2019)
Rozi Plain’s fifth solo jaunt away from her day job as bassist with This Is The Kit, feels akin to spending the day with a free-spirited pal. From gentle beginnings, it burns slowly, grounded in its own lopsided circadian rhythm and tugs you by the hand into moments of genuine beauty.
The album opens its eyes and greets the dawn with Inner Circle, languid violins smear across a rumble of percussion, as if poking out a foot from under the covers. Swing Shut shakes off the residual slumber and strides out beneath a wave of rolling drums as Plain’s playful, barely-there vocal style implores us to “speak to my heart”.
The deliberately loose form of What A Boost is the thing that sells it the most. Songs like the recent single Symmetrical are certainly in no hurry but there’s always forward momentum, burbling along and seeping out into rich veins of folk and jazz often underpinned by African rhythms.
Everything points to a strong collaborative process with contemporaries such as Dan Leavers from The Comet Is Coming lending strong support. Co-produced with bandmate Jamie Whitby Coles, Plain seems to have found a natural blueprint to express her world view, with many of the tracks cultivated while on the road.
There is a real sense of somebody who is happy to explore creatively, whether that be actively pushing into new territory or simply watching people and places fly by. But it’s her more introspective moments that really carry the piece forward.
Old Money slowly stretches out like a cat on a wall as the guitars shimmer and refract behind a gentle hissing saxophone, the mood equivalent of lying in long grass. Album standout Conditions envelops the senses like a tapped out underwater dream sequence and The Gap seems to be the music of a sunrise, glowing warmth slowly spreading through the record, emerging textures popping out and blossoming into life.
Trouble plays out like an urban sundowner, bouncing back and forth against the offbeat, its cascading organ refrain allowing everything else to twist and intertwine before we come full circle with the brooding, twilight strains of When There Is No Sun.
With What A Boost, Rozi Plain has produced an album that is truly organic, yet self-assured, often meandering but also nuanced and interesting. Take my advice – phone in sick, plug this into your headphones and get out for a new adventure.