Edinburgh songstress Rosie Nimmo strikes home with ten lessons in life
Release Date: 5th February 2021
Label: Kick My Heels
Formats: CD / Download
January can be a depressing month. It gets dark early, the weather is cold and wet and any form of relief often seems a long way off. The spectre of gloom and depression is particularly vivid this year, as the unremitting prospect of COVID lockdown looms well into the future. Thank heavens, then, for the rays of hope that are offered by albums like Where Time Suspends – a collection of ten songs from Edinburgh singer/songwriter Rosie Nimmo that offers a whole load of reassuring lessons in life and gives genuine cause for optimism.
Where Time Suspends is Rosie’s fourth album, her first since 2016’s highly acclaimed Scrapbook, and it’s a piece of work that looks set to continue building Rosie’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with. And that reputation is already an enviable one. She’s featured regularly on various BBC Scotland shows, Where Time Suspends has already received airplay on the BBC Roddy Hart Show and her growing band of admirers includes the novelist Ian Rankin. We’re clearly dealing with a significant talent here!
Rosie is a great admirer of, amongst others, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, John Martyn and Jacques Brel, and the musical and lyrical styles of each of those influences are evident in these songs. Rosie also suggests that she includes snatches of Billie Holliday, Alison Kraus, Pattie Smith and Dory Previn into her delivery style but, at least to me, that claim understates the overwhelmingly personal touch that she gives to her music. More than anything else, it’s Rosie’s lyrics and her beautifully strong yet intimate voice that make these songs so memorable. The lyrics are uniformly reflective and profound, touching upon life situations that we’re all familiar with, offer hope and reassurance and reflect Rosie’s former career as an art therapist. And the voice… well let me just suggest that if you don’t find yourself falling in love, then you surely have a heart of granite!
The musical styles flit seamlessly between folk, jazz, pop and blues and, at least in one instance, almost cross that vague line that divides jazz and funk. It all adds up to an album that is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. Opening track Laugh sets the mood. It’s a jazzy singalong and Rosie takes us through her full vocal range. The song’s refrain, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you,” may be a hackneyed cliché, but it’s true nonetheless, and it gives an early taste of the optimism that pervades this album.
Heaven is a touching song, with lyrics that will strike a chord with any animal lover. It’s a message to her kitten, Sid, whose accidental death left deep scars; I love the lyrics “I don’t want to go to heaven if they don’t let cats and dogs in” and “If you’ve never had a four-legged friend, you might not comprehend” and I also admire how Rosie managed to tackle such a personal subject without getting syrupy or over-sentimental. Keyboard Warriors is another jazzy number, with lyrics that urge us all to get up from our computer keyboards and do something positive and material to improve the state of the world. There are more cutting lyrics, this time asking for the forgiveness of the next generation who will have the task of clearing up the mess we’ve left them, and the song is embellished beautifully by some exquisite harmonica touches.
Oops A Daisy is a light, pleasant song with a simple backing of acoustic guitar and gently brushed drums that explores common life situations via a series of metaphors and Deep Peace is a poignant observational message to a deceased friend in which Rosie offers a prayer that her friend will find lasting peace amongst the natural environments he loved. These are lyrics that will resonate with anyone who has suffered the loss of a close friend or loved one (and I guess that’s most of us!) The soft, folky, Lonely People is equally profound. It’s a song that was inspired by the writings of author Marilynne Robinson and it deals with disconnect, loneliness and the inability suffered by many of us to communicate with others, including our own family members – all particularly significant at a time when the loneliness that comes with enforced isolation is endemic.
The folky theme is continued with the jaunty Small Child. Backed by guitars strummed in a quasi-reggae pattern, the song observes that a small child resides within each of us, and identifies that our child seeks, wants and needs love. It’s true, isn’t it?
The phrase, Music Is Sunshine, came up during a conversation between Rosie and a friend and was co-opted as the title for her poppy yet sophisticated song that encapsulates the role that music plays in our lives; again, it’s a sentiment that bears particular relevancy at a time when music has provided the crutch that many of us depend upon to see us through.
We end this delightful album on a high with the two singles that have already seen the light of day. Could Have Been, the current single (released on 22nd January) is a soft and mellow romp that reappraises the opportunities lost from a lapsed relationship, and the album’s first single, the jazzy, almost funky Choices, provides a wonderful ending to a thoroughly enjoyable album. Again, the lyrics accurately describe a way in which we all subconsciously behave. This time Rosie looks at our tendency to hide our true feelings and to subsequently respond superficially to situations that really require deep empathy and engagement.
Where Time Suspends is produced by Marc Pilley (ex-Hobotalk frontman) and he’s done an excellent job. Predominance is rightly given to Rosie’s wonderful vocals and the vital lyrics are crystal clear. The instrumentation – Rosie on guitar and harmonica, Marc on guitars, backing vocals, keyboards, Wurlitzer, melodica and drums, Mairi Campbell on viola, Tommy Nimmo on bass, Graham Smith on guitar and Debbie Nimmo on backing vocals, is subtle and tasteful and provides the perfect accompaniment to these excellent songs.
It’s relatively unusual for musicality and profundity to mesh together so effectively, but on Where Time Suspends, Rosie Nimmo has managed to do just that. Where Time Suspends is an album that has brightened up a cold, wet day. Why not let it do the same for you?
Listen to Could Have Been – the current single from the album – here: