THE HOLY FOOL Chris Rosser
What evolved planet did this person drop in from? It gives one pause when someone so talented and unique is also so unassuming. Just watching Chris play, whether on stage or in the song circle at night, I learned things, some of which were about music. How he carried himself, his hand position, the way he approached the strings, how he laid down his signature grooves, his vocal tone and intonation, all these were singularly Rosserfarian, to beg a word.
Rosser's themes and instrumentation, indeed the very spirit in his songs, span many places, and many times. North Carolina, D.C., India, Europe, the Middle East. There's an uncannily integrated East-Westness in the music of this artist, who seems to play quite a full array of stringed instruments, yet whose primary axe is piano. He is one of the favored sons of the Asheville, NC scene, which is very fertile ground for acoustic music and songwriters of all description.
He plays most of the many instruments used on this very listenable disc, and I like the tunes better with each listen, and that's been quite a few now. Portraits of humanity: himself, his folks, his friends, some figures historical or even mythical. He apparently has several tunes about Federico Fellini, the one on this record is a beauty. I like his East-West anthem "Christmas in the Ashram" very much. He will sometimes adorn the melody or the hook with the Indian dotar or electric sitar, sometimes with electric guitar and wah wah pedal. Sometimes it's djembe, tabla or talking drum, then it's drum loops and samples. It all works seamlessly, without dichotomy.
Very little darkness in his personality comes across, I'm not sure he's got any of that to share. There's plenty of that going around, I don't think I'm missing it. What he does bring to the turntable is impeccable musicianship, a really strong bunch of tunes, and the fraternal lucidity of a man who seems pretty okay with himself. FG