Philadelphia-based artist Rosali makes songs that take their time in revealing their full power. What might first appear to be restrained, introspective compositions will stretch slowly outward, snagging your attention with a subtly sideways guitar lead or an exceptionally raw lyric you didn’t catch the first time around. A child of two musicians, Rosali grew up as part of a large family that sang together and taught themselves various instruments, finding the earliest forms of her musical voice harmonizing and making up songs with her sisters.
As an adult, Rosali merged this musical upbringing with an active involvement in Philly’s experimental and D.I.Y. community. Her 2016 solo debut Out of Love was released on Siltbreeze, a long-running label that champions abstract noise and challenging listening. While Rosali’s earliest work was far nearer to folk-informed rock than harsh sonics, it held an intensity of its own in its strange angles and unexpected vulnerability. Second album Trouble Anyway expanded on the debut with clearer production and more involved arrangements. A host of friends from Philly’s freak scene contributed to the album, including appearances from ambient harpist/pianist Mary Lattimore, Purling Hiss/Birds of Maya shredder Mike Polizze, glistening lap-steel from Mike Sobel, understated percussion from War On Drugs drummer Charlie Hall, and several others.
Trouble Anyway brought Rosali a new level of exposure, with a flood of positive critical press and tours supporting acts like The Weather Station and J Mascis. Along with her solo work, Rosali’s output has materialized as a broad spectrum of disparate collaborations, including the hypnotic garage trio Long Hots, slow-burning psych scrawl in duo Monocot with Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerycz, and Wandering Shade, a three-guitar improv act with Headroom’s Kryssi Battalene and Thrill Jockey artist Sarah Louise. Aspects of the more free-floating side of Rosali’s oeuvre inform her songwriting process, with songs often emerging from the ether of lengthy improvisation sessions, new ideas congealing through a boundless exploration of possibilities.
Brought to life with help from Omaha’s David Nance Group as the backing band, 2021’s song-centered No Medium was a sharply realized example of Rosali’s distinctive synthesis of metered songwriting and unfettered searching. Around the same time, she offered a completely separate side of her craft with cassette release Chokeweed, a collection of auburn-hued solo guitar improvisations. In whatever form it takes, Rosali’s softly glowing music is malleable and deceptively fluid, able to appear patient and refined or at the edge of unraveling depending on how closely you chose to look.