HALF WAIF – ” The Caretaker “

Posted: June 17, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Half Waif Nandi Rose is on her own again, and three songs into her forthcoming album “The Caretaker”, the singer, songwriter and producer declares her fearlessness: “Baby don’t worry about me, I don’t worry about you.” Here, on “Ordinary Talk,” Rose meditates on the heaviness of ordinary moments, the constellation of tears and chores and self-doubt and small talk that comprise being a person, accompanied by her most cinematic, pulsing arrangements to date. It’s an apt introduction to The Caretaker, an ax-lbum that negotiates the space between working alone and with others, between isolation and connection. The result is her boldest work yet. Over the course of eleven songs, Rose creates the lush world of a humid summer night, dreaming of and reaching for a season in which she is her “best self.”

Nandi Rose’s music has expanded from bucolic soundscapes into icier portraits. On 2014’s Kotekan and 2016’s Probable Depths, Rose’s strings, pianos and powerful mezzo-soprano provided an appropriately plaintive background for her ruminations on distance and personal growth. For 2017’s boxy form/a EP and 2018’s grief-stricken Lavender, she embraced synths that resembled icicles falling onto a patio and shattering—an element previously scattered, but not placed front and center, throughout her work—in service of songs as thoughtfully composed as they were towering and immediate. Rose’s Lavender follow-up The Caretaker is smaller in scale.

The album often resembles a reversion to her sparser early work and away from the cavernous jolts of her more recent output. As Rose embraces her craft’s most hermit-like aspects, she consolidates her long time fascinations with change and disconnectedness into grim portraits of whom she becomes when she doesn’t maintain her closest relationships and properly tend to (the ever-marketable art of) self-care. Understandably, The Caretaker’s stories are often not pretty sights, even if the music always is. On “Blinking Light,” a synth-pop ballad that flows like a gentle stream, Rose describes circling the drain and leaving texts unread, and though the image of a neglectful Rose is bleak, the song’s slow glide toward her belting away her agony is equally somber and invigorating. Throughout “In August,” she looks back despondently on the fallout of a once-strong companionship: “I have lost your friendship / What does that say about me?” As pillowy synths burst into a mournful geyser of sound, the track takes on a rejuvenating air.

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