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Rose Polenzani


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk

Status:

Most recent release, The Rabbit (2011)

See also:

Rose Polenzani's official site

Wikipedia's entry on Rose Polenzani

The Ectophiles' Guide's entry for a group project, Voices on the Verge

Comparisons:

Edie Brickell, vocally

Covers/own material:

Own, some co-written

General comments:

Rose is a folk/acoustic singer/songwriter/guitarist from Chicago. Her albums are very much like her live performances. That is to say, there isn't a lot of production that stands between the listener and the recording. Her music is mostly on the softer and personal side. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Rose is a Chicago based singer-songwriter. She has a very unique style that is hard to describe. She has been compared to Tori Amos, and Leonard Cohen. She has an amazing way with words that scream to be heard even though the voice reciting them is close to a whisper. Some of may have heard of Rose through Lilith Fair. Rose won the Chicago Lilith Fair Acoustic Talent Search and she will be playing the Village stage in Chicago. Rose has also been added to the Newport Folk Festival, and the Traveling Newport Folk Festival in Chicago. Rose is an artist on the rise so catch her now. (gegertha@tiac.net)

i dont have to tell you how much i love rose, how brilliant i think she is. (Jess913@aol.com)

She plays guitar (among other things) and she's kind of folky-rock. I listened to a bunch of her songs and they are great!! Check her out, if you haven't already! (ecalos@earthlink.net)

Comments about live performance:

I had a wonderful evening listening to Rose Polenzani play an intimate concert in Baldwin, our campus' women's collective, and one of the loveliest buildings. She's worth checking out. Just her and guitar. She has a wonderful voice—sweet, clear. Her songs tell stories. She has a real warmth, connection...what's the word?...with the audience. Rapport! That's it. Yes, she would joke, tell little stories, got excited that the Indigo Girls are putting backing vocals on a track on her upcoming cd, taught the crowd choruses so that we could sing along. I really enjoyed it. She's engaging. And she sings and plays well. She sang one song a cappella, a cover, but I didn't know the song, so can't tell you what it is. She got really into it, and her voice was soaring high and low. It was really good, and I think it showed her voice off best of all the songs she did. Most of her songs were in the mellow, folk/acoustic range. "Peacetime", the only song title she mentioned, was really good. Also, a song called "Get Off My Back" was really good. Some of her songs were more up tempo, including that one. I missed quite a bit of the concert, but caught a good bit. She played until past 11, almost 12 maybe? Then we took a break, and hung out in a circle, different people playing guitar and singing songs. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I've heard quite a bit about Rose Polenzani in the past couple months, but I'd never heard a note of her music before today. I liked her set quite a bit, and I'll pick up her CD. Her voice reminded me of Edie Brickell, though her music was pretty straight-ahead intelligent acoustic folk. She seemed to be existing on a planet entirely her own, but that might just have been a function of the elimination of the distance between audience and performer when there's no amplification and you're all sitting in a really small room. (meth@smoe.org)

I also liked her set quite a bit. I don't know if I was impressed enough to seek out her CD, but if the opportunity arises to see her perform again I'll be there (and maybe after two shows I will end up buying the CD). (mcurry@io.com)

I'd never seen Rose Polenzani live before, but I traded nights in order to engineer for her on the radio station I work at. She's on right now. Is she always like this? I'm gonna lose count of the number of times I've fallen down laughing!
     A year later: Actually, Rose definitely does seem to have her own planet, and to the extent that she lets you into it during her between songs banter, it can make for a surreal show. Which is one of the things I love about her. At a concert at Somerville Theatre (hundreds of people in the audience), for example, she told us all about her exhibitionism and being seen naked by strangers through windows at home, and also about wandering her neighborhood looking through other peoples' windows to see what she could see.... If you have a taste for the bizarre, and like good female singer/songwriters, go to a bunch of Rose Polenzani shows :)
     Regarding the Edie Brickell similarity meth mentioned...at Rose & Summer's WBRS show, they decided to do a cover. To Summer's "which song do you want to do?", Rose answered "I only do songs from the Ghost of a Dog album." They then went through all the names of the songs on the album until they picked the one they both wanted to do, and sang that one. Based on the fact that Rose apparently knows by heart, without having even thought to prepare, every song from one of Edie Brickell's lesser-known albums (that being anything that isn't Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars :), was prepared to perform any of them, and did the one they chose perfectly, I conclude that Edie Brickell is definitely one of her primary influences and favorite artists :) (cos@wbrs.org)

I've seen Rose Polenzani twice now. I thought both shows were flat and uninspired. I can't say that the songs don't have something to them, 'cause I never really got into the lyrics, but I wasn't particularly impressed. If it wasn't for the stated high opinions of her around here, I'd never consider seeing her again. As it is now, I doubt I'll go out of my way. I have never heard either of her albums though. (neal)

I first saw her in a performance at the Uncommon Ground coffeehouse, and was so impressed I bought her CD. (2/01, mapravat@prairienet.org)

Recommended first album:

Dragersville

Recordings:

  • Dragersville (1998)
  • Anybody (1999)
  • Rose Polenzani (2001)
  • August (2004)
  • When the River Meets the Sea (with Session Americana, 2008)
  • The Rabbit (2011)

Dragersville

Release info:

1998—Parhelion Music—0166-53302-2A

Availability:

Available through website

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Rose Polenzani—voice, guitar, walnuts

Guest artists:

Geoff Benge—second and lead guitar, mandolin, voice
Andrew Bird—violin on "The Necklace" and "Molly's Lily"
Jordi Kleiner—violin on "In the Middle"

Produced by:

Rose Polenzani

Comments:

A very haunting, literate, and gorgeous recording. Anyone else have it? Apparently she's played Lilith and Newport, and counts the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray as among her biggest fans. The CD is very quiet and melancholy—all solo acoustic guitar stuff—and her lyrics are tremendously moving at times. Has a lot of religious/sexuality (often versus each other) themes running through her songs, some very nice character sketches as well. This album is pretty much non-produced, and sometimes her voice shows it and strains, but it's excellent. Anyone else heard it? (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

Yeah, I have this album, and like it, but you should definitely try to get to see her live. (cos@wbrs.org)

This is a wonderful album and very pure, in terms of being very close to the sound of just Rose's voice and guitar and the other instrumentation a few songs have. Themes include religious issues and sexuality, and the emotions run deep from humorous to sad. Most of it is very soft and mellow, but she can get gritty and aggressive too. I especially like how this works on "Molly's Lily" which starts out soft, builds progressively more aggressive, and then back down to very quiet again at the end. A very strong debut, and a singer I will continue to follow. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Anybody

Release info:

1999—Daemon Records (P.O. Box 1207, Decatur, GA, 30031)—DAM 19022

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Rose Polenzani—vocals, guitar, organ

Guest artists:

Geoff Benge—mandolin
Amy Ray, Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls)—harmonies
Andrew Bird—violin

Produced by:

Rose Polenzani (compiled by Amy Ray and Rose Polenzani)

Comments:

I'm just listening to it now for the first time. There are three tracks from the self-released Dragersville on it. "Chalice" seems to be the same recording, "Olga's Birthday" is a new recording, and "Or" is the Dragersville recording but with the (Indigo Girls) singing harmony added.
     And yeah, it's got "more" production than Dragersville, but that's still hardly any. It's very acoustic and folky sounding. (cos@wbrs.org)

You just has to listen to" Olga's Birthday" to understand the power behind this artist. Every cut is powerful, with the sparsest delivery necessary to accomplish the result. I've always been amazed at artists that basically need nothing outside themselves to get their art across. I guess you may call it basic communication, but Rose is in that class. Bob Dylan, Kate Wolf, Woody Guthrie, Iris Dement, Ani Difranco come to mind. (jsutton@hrmusic.com)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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