Friend is the third album by alt-folk practitioner Rozi Plain. The Winchester-born singer/songwriter has roped in of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and a few members of Francois & The Atlas Mountains to help on this record. You may have heard the single Actually doing the rounds on 6 Music recently. Definitely worth checking out!
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It is well that this record is named ‘Friend’, as Rozi Plain has written it to You. This is one kind of folk rock traditional, in that sense: all of its songs are delivered from the first person and tell stories about the second person, and while she’s got a roster of fine musicians filling in the blanks, Plain’s songwriting sounds protected and personal. “Actually” flutters with keyboards and slight percussive brushes, both playing so modestly it sounds like they merely exist to respect Plain’s storytelling.
As the record goes on, Plain’s songwriting sounds similarly confounding: she’s as plaintive and slow-building as Lotte Kestner, but with full-on arrangements that make her songs soar, a la “Best Team”, which layers on horns like Sufjan on ‘Michigan’. There’s something propulsive about “Best Team”, but Plain is as significant an absence as she is a presence on the song: she disappears for an extended instrumental bridge, convincing further that she has written minimal stories with a maximalist soundtrack.
It’s Plain’s lyrics that make this record: over glitzy keyboards and tinny beats she counterpoints the surreal scenes of “Five Beans” with pure stated facts, from “You were alive when I was alive” to “I smell a sleepover”. Plain’s voice never reacts to these words too dramatically, and often their seriousness is undercut by the electronic intervations of her musical company. It’s best when she’s playing over riffs and quiet instrumental arrangements, though: then there’s no distraction from Plain’s simple and potent musings.
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- Friend by Rozi Plain
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