It’s the first day of 2014, and these two EPs from Toronto’s Rose Brokenshire should help cleanse away any negative vibes you might be harbouring from last year. Brokenshire’s approach to songwriting is to keep it simple, and the result is two beautifully-sparse mini-collections, released in September and November respectively.
Seeds You Grow is billed on Bandcamp as “Some summertime tunes with the help of good friends” and there’s certainly a summery wistfulness as opener “The Oak” enters with just Brokenshire’s vocals for a pretty a cappella introduction. The song doesn’t get much more complex, adding just an acoustic guitar. “Back Around” continues the summery vibes, adding hand claps for added fun.
The highlight of the EP is its title track, which as Cahill Kelly providing a full range of instruments (slide guitar and harmonica, plus added vocals) to augment Brokenshire. As a result the song is much denser, but it’s a nice change. Finally, the dreamy “Go On” ends the EP nicely with picked guitar and Brokenshire’s idiosyncratic use of two vocal lines.
The Together EP, meanwhile, is billed as a collaboration between Brokenshire and Caleb Killian. The added billing doesn’t radically reinvent Brokenshire’s solo efforts — if anything, it makes her music even more wonderful.
“Down Deep” is a huge breath of fresh air, and just like “The Oak” on the previous EP makes for an effective opening statement. Unsurprisingly, Brokenshire and Killian bring pitch-perfect harmonies to the table for this recording, and those very harmonies open the song. Killian actually takes main vocal duties for this song, and using a banjo instead of an acoustic guitar brings some added oomph.
“Nothing is Lost” and “Longest Song” are both unflinchingly gentle, almost coming across like soft hymns to something long gone. The latter song in particular emphasizes the melancholy with its guitar-picking pattern.
“Hourglass” proves to be the highlight of this recording, a bright song that really shows Brokenshire and Killian’s chemistry. The last 30 seconds are so make for a very effective ending with Brokenshire vocalizing accompanied by Killian whistling.
The EP ends with “This Place,” which features Brokenshire’s most raw vocal performance so far. Her vocals make her sound like she could dissolve into tears at any second, and unabashedly sentimental lyrics like “roots will spread and love will stay” only serve to amplify the heartache, whatever may be causing it.
With Rose Brokenshire, less is most certainly more.
Top Tracks: “Seeds You Grow”; “Hourglass”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)