For every music-industry veteran, scores of acts never get the opportunity to bask in the glory of a well-received set at Electric Picnic, or even share their music with anyone. Rosie Carney was another one that nearly got away.
At the tender age of 16, Carney was signed to Polydor Records. It didn’t exactly go well, as the Universal-affiliated label suggested numerous name and image changes, forced Carney to endure torturous hours and days in a studio fruitlessly searching for a “hit”, and essentially engaging in all the tiresome cliched rigmarole that goes with the corporate music industry.
Carney was born in Hampshire, on the southern coast of England, but moved to Co Donegal aged 10. She has been making music since her teens. An Other Voices appearance at 16 stoked up her profile and led to the Polydor deal. Now, at 20, she is enjoying success on her own terms.
Before Bare even sees the light of day, she has been streamed 18 million times on Spotify, and currently commands a considerable monthly audience of 600,000 listeners. In the US, National Public Radio has been championing her to the hilt, and you get the strong impression that the best is yet to come.
The reason why Carney became a quiet success story is obvious. Her voice is remarkable, and she is an exceedingly fine songwriter. The opening track, What You've Been Looking For, sounds like a gentle yet stirring statement of intent after finally being freed to pursue her own muse. "Be yourself she said to me," Carney coos. "Make sure your voice is heard. Be as free as you want to be. And I'll always stand by those words."
Her fellow troubadour and kindred spirit Lisa Hannigan guests on the beautiful Thousand, a deeply personal song about her grandmother's struggle with dementia. Hannigan and Carney share an Irish background, and are blessed with extraordinary voices, but that's where any similarities end.
The very fact that Rosie Carney is such a runaway success before this album is even released is a testament to her singular brilliance
While there are faint echoes of Carney’s great northwestern contemporary Soak, aka Bridie Monds-Watson, from Derry – who is poised to present her own comeback album soon – Carney is doing her own sweet thing. The very fact that she’s such a runaway success before this album is even released is a testament to her singular brilliance.
Like Soak, Carney was first showcased on that crucial incubator of emergent talent, Other Voices. Soak took her time and finished school before signing to Rough Trade, and getting nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in the whole process, while Carney dabbled in a terrible record deal. Thankfully, that diversion doesn’t matter a jot any more. It clearly has moulded and blooded her as a much better artist in the long run.
The standard of songwriting on this fine full-length debut never dips or sags. Late into the album, Zoey, Orchid and Your Love Is Holy form a triple whammy of three fantastic tracks in a row. Bud (Rose) concludes Bare on an arresting instrumental note, as a tingling piano gently blends into a beautiful recording of birdsong.
Bare is quite a remarkable album. After an abortive career start, and subsequent series of trials and tribulations, Rosie Carney has finally arrived and is realising her own musical and artistic vision on the London-based independent label Akira Records.
Carney's emergence on Bare is an exquisite joy to behold, a gorgeous song cycle that runs the whole gamut of life, love and loss. This brilliant Anglo-Irish artist is just starting to bloom. Expect the name Rosie Carney to strongly feature in the Irish music of the future. rosiecarney.com