CD Review: Rosina Bullen, ‘Painting A Picture’

Written by | Artists, CD Reviews, News, Women in Jazz Media

UK-born and New York-based singer-songwriter Rosina Bullen has re-entered the jazz scene as an independent artist, debuting her new EP Painting a Picture. Along with her rich musical education, Bullen’s compositional inspirations come from an eclectic range of music, giving her a unique and refreshing outlook on songwriting. The album spotlights Bullen’s love for poetry and storytelling, brought to life through orchestral arrangements by David Swan.

The 6- track EP takes the listener on a meandering voyage through Bullen’s meaningful life experiences, growing and developing from the first track ‘Lie Down My Love’, which Bullen describes as the ‘anchor’ for the whole project. Bullen was nominated for Newcomer of the Year in the 2020 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, bringing her intriguing musicianship and creative approach into the public eye.

The EP is a journey of life, from young love to coming of age, loss, family, and self-empowerment. The extra magic for me comes from the orchestration across the EP done by my incredible friend and partner in crime throughout the whole process, David Swan!

‘Lie Down My Love’ is built on a blanket of contrasting textures, from Bullen’s soothing, folky tone to Swan’s thrilling orchestral embellishments. The song is uplifted by harmonious, long chords in the string section, continuing to evolve as more of the orchestral parts enter. The lyrics are inspired by a line from the Langston Hughes poem ‘Jazzonia’, telling the story of two lovers who slowly begin to drift apart over the course of the song. It’s an enriching musical welcoming to Bullen and Swan’s compositional relationship, and wonderfully sets the tone for the rest of the EP.

‘Candle’ is a vibrant and joyful tune, which is based upon the repetitive two chord motif heard from the start. Bullen’s sinuous melodies add a new level of melodic and harmonic interest to the music, intertwining with the equally exploratory violin lines. The piano interludes point to classical influences, along with the chromatic chordal string moments, which build to a velvety guitar solo.

Photo by Lucy J Toms Photography @storybrandcreative

‘Elegy’ is a compositional high point on the EP. The lyrics are taken from a poem written in 1586 by Chidiock Tichborne, who was executed due to his involvement in a plot to replace Queen Elizabeth I with Mary Queen of Scots. Bullen’s take on the story paired with the rich orchestral backing, echo the sorrow of a life cut short.

I feel a very strong connection with the words, and the history behind the poem makes this even more meaningful to me…

Bullen’s folky influences become more evident in ‘Life in Colour’, ‘Painter’ and ‘My First Love’. ‘       Life in Colour’ is a gradual build; the orchestral ‘colours’ bring to life the descriptive lyrics which go through each colour of the rainbow. It’s a very playful and clever composition which underscores Bullen’s song-writing expertise.

‘My First Love’ has distinct folky overtones, with an ongoing drone in the orchestration and a prominent fiddle line which emerges from the chordal strings. It is an impassioned and slightly nostalgic ending to the EP, bringing us into the musical world of Rosina Bullen, an exciting place to be.

Tracklist:

  1. Lie Down My Love
  2. Candle
  3. Elegy
  4. Life in Colour
  5. Painter
  6. My First Love

Lineup:

Music and Lyrics by Rosina Bullen

Rosina Bullen – Voice, Povel Widestrand – Piano, Chris Montague – Electric/Acoustic Guitar, Adam Goldsmith – Mandolin/Nylon/Acoustic Guitar
Tom Herbert – Electric/Upright Bass, James Maddren – Drums & Percussion

John Mills – Violin I (section leader), Jeremy Isaac – Violin II, Clio Gould – Violin III, Jon Morton – Violin IV, Lydia Lowndes Northcott – Viola I
Nick Barr – Viola II, Bozidar Vukotic – Cello I, Ian Burdge – Cello II, Karen Jones – Flute, Olivia Fraser – Oboe, Martin Williams – Clarinet
Dan Jemison – Bassoon

David Swan – Orchestration, Arrangement & Production
Chris Hyson – Production
Theo Bleckmann – Musical Mentor
Andrew Sunnucks – Orchestral Producer
Stefano Civetta- Recording & Mixing Engineer
Christopher Brooke – Mastering

Recorded at School Farm Studios

Release Date: 8th September 2022

Format: Digital

Label: Bridge the Gap Management

To purchase click here

Rosina Bullen website

Available to stream here

 

 

Last modified: December 13, 2022