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Song Premiere: "Back To Living" by Rose Gerber

26 September 2023

Photo Credit: Whitney Lyons

There we were messing around with our favorite toys in our parent’s basements, and then here we are again years later sifting through those very same items packed away in boxes. This time, though, they’re just souvenirs from a bygone era stuffed in a storage container. Singer-songwriter Rose Gerber’s latest release, the four-song EP Memories Someday, out September 29th, is a mediation on moments like these. Within a framework of eclectic Americana musicality and poetic insightfulness, she unpacks the heartache of life’s impermanence. The EP’s leadoff single will be its jaunty and sweetly nostalgic title track.

“My songwriting is a tool to help me work through feelings, and things I can’t always talk about,” The Portland, Oregon-based artist shares. “There is a comfort in facing the heavy stuff head on because in doing so you can move forward. Life is fleeting; we better embrace what we have while we have it.”

Rose is an intrepid American roots explorer, incorporating country, folk, rock, alt-rock, and alt-country into a seamless signature aesthetic. As a writer she’s both sensitive and sassy, equally gifted penning Heartland rock n’ roll and heartbreaking balladry. Her songs are snapshots of everyday living that show the meaning in the seemingly mundane, and they also function as courageous self-talk. Rose’s vocals are elegantly emotive, and she has been favorably compared to Natalie Merchant, Gillian Welch, and Patty Griffin. Trademark to many of her songs is the high-lonesome whine of the pedal steel, showing that no matter how far outside of the box she colors, country music is still an artistic home. To date, Rose has released one full-length album, an EP, and a bevy of singles.

Her latest, Memories Someday, is a collection of musically expansive and lyrically immersive driving songs. At times, its four songs point toward 1970s Southern rock and 1970s country-tinged singer-songwriters, recalling artists such as Neil Young, The Band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The EP opens with the banger,” Back to Living,” a rousing 1990s pop-rocker that commences powerfully with the sound of tom tom drums. The arrangement subtly evolves with airy synths, quick-strummed acoustic guitar, propulsive muted-melodic guitar parts, and Rose’s plaintively emotive vocals. The song is written about her younger half brother, and here Rose laments how they were never able to have a relationship. Her sadly beautiful opening lines are: In the fading golden light/Hug the river as you drive/Never fully could take flight/To make the great escape. “I was trying to imagine his perspective on his life, and his relationship with me and his struggle with depression,” Rose says.

The languorous, “Shake Loose,” is a breezy Americana song replete with teardrop pedal steel and sun-kissed harmony vocals. It’s a prayer in passing, asking the Universe for a little salvation from the depths of COVID isolation and numbness. Rose explores her personal cosmic Americana on “Weigh Station.” Rose’s vocals here have a sturdy gentleness embellished by touches of harmony singing as they navigate the melody’s starts and stops and flowing long tones. “Weigh Station” came from conversations with a friend who was having a mental crisis and not acknowledging that she needed help. In the chorus, Rose sings: Time to stop at the weigh station/Are you strong enough to carry that load?/Drove for miles without thinking/How long you really could go. “While I was writing it, I was thinking about how we all just grin and bear it when we are in pain. We think we don’t have the time or capacity to process or take a break from all the stress and trauma that comes our way in life,” Rose says. On the imaginatively-arranged EP title track, Rose metaphorically explores her vivid dreams within a reflective country-rock setting.