Rosie from the Block - Believe in It EP (Phuture Shock Musik, 2022)
On the second release of the label's freshly minted Dubplate series, Phuture Shock invite Rosie from the Block along to provide her spell binding take on broken beat and R'n'B - and as always, the results are mesmerising, tantalisingly groovy and filled to the brim with heart....
There's plenty to be enjoyed when an artist finds that perfected balance between rhythm, melody and vocals, an intersection so well trodden that it seems difficult to keep making that inter-relationship seem invigorating. Many however still make it feel so, and Rosie from the Block is certainly one of those that finds a perfected and inspiring balance between the words being spoken and the quiet evolutions underneath that light a fire in hearts - a mastery of those life affirming tones that soundtrack so many aspects of our day to day lives. Rosie from the Block is the newest moniker of songwriter and producer Roselien Tobbackx, who has formed the basis for Rosie via the release of a number of outstanding contemporary R'n'B records under her own name, which when you listen to them there is a clear picture provided of her ability to pull apart the genre and add a whole heap of excellence into every stanza and bar. The balances in terms of vocal tone and melodic atmosphere is very impressive, with her voice leading the line as a continually meandering instrumental backdrop shifts between up tempo numbers and soulful heart turners. The feelings that are imprinted onto us feel relatable and connected, as if the two worlds we occupy become that little bit closer as we tune into Roselien's music. Soul and R'n'B music will do that to you, but it remains at the hands of the creator as to what path we will be led down based upon the conveyance of emotion and rhythm, and with Roselien there is always a presence and a musical dynamism that means anything could happen, and it often does. To say that Roselien's music simply existed in the Soul and R'n'B world would also be doing her a disservice, as her music continually envelopes the warmths found within Jazz, Neo-Soul, Broken Beat and Funk. And this sentiment is throughly echoed within her previous works, from the sunny side up grooves of 'Not My Fantasy', through to the sultry and ultra smooth 'Give me a Break', and right through to the excellent 'Seventh Ascension' EP from 2021, which showcased her never ending range and only hinted at greater things to come....
Rosie from the Block made their way to the stage in 2021, and in many ways can be seen as a logical extension of the branching tree of substance and feels that is Roselien's musical universe. If her work under her own name was more a celebration of the widest possible spectrum of soul, jazz and funk, Rosie from the Block is razor sharp electrified broken beat, taking us along as we pound the pavement in the dimming evening light. This is very much evident in her debut release under the moniker, one of our favourites from last year, 'Love Potions for Block Parties', and as a spring board for success you couldn't ask for much more. Bold, rhythmically and melodically engaging, and effortlessly meaningful, its the kind of record you put on and feel the warmth wash over you, enveloping our hearts and minds as we skip down the street in search of our next adventure. For a three tracker it covers a lot of ground, an aspect of Roselien's approach which has crossed over with ease from her previous works, and from our perspective it only made us crave more.
And just like that, we have been granted our most precious of wishes, in the form of 'Believe in It', which arrives on one of our favourite imprints Phuture Shock Musik. The music here builds upon the 2021 EP in some style, carrying over the intrinsic core of the record and simply expanding upon a perfected formula via the introduction of differing chordal arrangements and genre exploration, and it works so very well. The grooves are on point as always, and like with much of Roselien's work this rhythmic foundation provides the basis for the melodic and vocal sublimity we have come to know her for. The relationship between voice and instrument remains fluid and interchangable, with all three cuts displaying a differing side to the journey on which we find ourselves. The music feels right at home on Phuture Shock, a match made in heaven truly - so on that note, lets dive right into this gem of a record, and step out into the sunshine as we do so....
Up first comes the title track, and this one begins with the succulent strings that cascade down from the sky. Not long after we have become completely enamoured with the chords have we swiftly drifted into a wicked groove, one which has texture seeping from every corner, and this is when Rosie starts to speak to us from within the top layer. Small bass notes of all kinds add flavour to the swings, with a full bass line joining into the mix not too long after, and as we continue to move along the chords join into the fun, their filtered appearance crafting a hefty sense of anticipation. Additional key sequences simmer around the middle layer, their presence doing much to fuel the momentum as the vocals double down with some glorious melodic lines being sung along the sides of the hall. The blend is unbelievable, and this makes the switch into the break down all the more satisfying, as cascading synths swirl around the ear drums, with the vocals leading us fully into the next segment, which sees the original chord progression come back into full view. The back end of the track sees a wide variety of elements move in and out of focus, creating this beautiful melting pot of vitality and groove, and it all feels like one incredible dream - one we can relive over and over again.
'Same Road Back Home' comes next, and this one begins with the drums to get things going. The rhythm is super palatable, with the kicks hitting with a healthy oomph whilst the crisp hats intersperse the regularity with purpose, and this is all before the melodic elements begin to come into view. The feeling is that pure 80s boogie kind of notion, with a wondrous interplay between the bass line and high line simmering synths, with a twinkling line thrown in to lift spirits to feverish levels. The vocals take a more back drop feel here, the wordless lines slotting expertly into the chords whilst on occasion we are joined a lead line, but its subtle, calculated and placed at just the right moment. The breakdown sees everything stripped back to just the key rhythmic thrust, the repeating vocal line leading the audience by the nose as everything begins to build up behind it, as we ready our bodies for one final exposition of energy. The final third is just, well, check it out for yourself. Mesmerising stuff.
To wrap things up on this three tracker, we have 'Let The Drum', and this one once more lets the drums take centre stage alongside the core synth line. There is plenty of space for elements to align themselves with the momentum, and this takes the form of the light guitar riff and a beefy bass line, along with a sweeping synth line that drips through the cracks with real intent. The vocals then take centre stage, driving forward right through the instruments as the crowd burns with the rhythm. The switches in density add weight and draw focus to the words being spoken, and the track continues to ease along at its own pace, keeping its flame alight as the listener is invited to keep on moving through the layers, holding each element in their hand. The charm that we have come to know Rosie for exists all around on this jam, a flawless and classy groover that is delicate, thoughtful and oh so danceable, all at the same time. Rosie sure knows how to strike into the heart of this tri factor, and we feel all the more richer for it. A super experience, from start to finish.
Its always wonderful to see an artist express themselves to their absolute limits, exploring the outer reaches of their sound and being able to pull something truly memorable out of the bag every single time. Roselien has conjured up a very special series of records thus far in her career, one which has seen her bounce between all manner of interlinked genres and come out the other side with something that feels completely her own, a honest and deeply captivating sound that reminds us all about how powerful the blend of vocals and instrumentals can be. This new record from her is no different, with the three cuts on display really doing the distance and making the experience feel like its extended beyond its physical form, leaving a thrill within us as we leave it behind. Powerful yet subtly crafted beats, mesmerising and playful melodic lines, and of course the vocals, all build each other up in creating a believable soundscape, one where we feel involved and eager to know more, to loose ourselves amongst the layers. That's the power of her music, and as mentioned before, we always leave a Rosie from the Block record feeling utterly content, but always so eager to hear what she might release next. Yet another trimuph, this album, and we cannot recommend it enough.
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