Review – Roseau releases New Glass on Big Dada

Artist: Roseau
Title: New Glass
Label: Big Dada
Release: Out Now!
Genre: Electronic /Leftfield

Roseau aka Kerry Leatham, has songwriting in her blood. Born in Colchester in 1985 to a Dominican Father (her nom de guerre is taken from the Caribbean island’s capital) and a Northern Irish mother, her grandfather used to improvise story- songs to Leatham and her sister as toddlers. This was an experience which she recalls as crucial in forming her love of songs, lyrics, and music that tells a story. Her debut album, Salt, is full of stories, drawing the listener in to tales of love – lived, lost or remembered – and fragmentary snapshots of modern life both rubbish and wondrous. Vivid images abound of nights out, road trips, longing and regret – all related via her bold, chiming, futuristic electronic pop.

Leatham began making up her own songs as a child, roping in her sister to sing harmonies. Harmony, and what she describes as ‘vocal blending,’ has fascinated her as long for as she can remember – a fact that goes some way to explaining her glorious, defamiliarising mastery of the technique on Salt. She began practising with a basic tape recorder as a child, upgrading to a Zoom MRS-802 digital multitrack when she turned 16. It was this machine’s greater capability for layered vocals that really gave her experiments purpose.

Having abandoned her first guitar shortly after acquiring it as an eight year old, Kerry was inspired by a friend to pick it up again as a teenager. The combination of the instrument and her Zoom allowed her to begin writing demos and playing local gigs, and shortly afterwards she attracted the attention of the manager she still has today, one Kwame Kwaten (Laura Mvula, Shola Ama and formerly of D – Influence). An equally long term working relationship began soon after that, with Will Evans of Tape Club Records. He released her first music, and exposed her to the collective of artists around his label, who would go on to become friends and inspirations.

Starting with a low slung bass line which instantly reminds me of Dead Prez – Hip Hop, interesting glitched fills lead into Kerry’s rather dystopian monologue, lines like “sucking on a cigarette, doesn’t like the taste of it.” conjures up a rich tapestry of images in my mind. Kerry’s vocal delivery is measured and responsive to the ebb and flow of the backing track; she can move from the sugar sweetness of the choruses to a gritty urban flow with ease. All in all a decent pop track in the guise of Azaelia Banks or M.I.A., proving Britain still has the cream of experimental leftfield acts.