While having accrued almost 20 years of experience contributing towards the distinct sonic vision of Grizzly Bear, it is clear that Daniel Rossen now stands defiantly on his own two feet. His move from rural upstate New York to the high desert climbs of Sante Fe emblematic of the transition from collaboration to an independent creative process, Rossen redefines the boundaries of musical imagination with his long-awaited, wholly confident debut LP 'You Belong There'.
Featuring finessed acoustic arrangements with genuine musical integrity, an overarching folk backbone, and tightly woven vocal harmonies that reinforce the poignancy of introspection, the album leads the listener down a mesmerising rabbit hole, and out the other side.
Setting the tone with transitional connotations, ‘It’s A Passage’ offers a soaring voyage through down-tuned acoustic gypsy blues, and a satisfying clarity when drums and voice leap into motion. Tracks such as the choppy, reflective ‘Unpeople Space’ and sugar spun ‘The Last One’ offer a similarly captivating rhythmic intrigue and crisp sonic quality, atop hypnotic choral harmonies and enthralling string and woodwind arrangements.
While Chris Bear’s (Grizzly Bear) guest drumming adds a depth of excitement across the album, Rossen – best known for his guitar work – impressively performs the vast majority of instrumental material, including upright bass, cello and woodwinds, the latter through process of self-tuition during the album’s conception.
It is perhaps the sparser inclusions that really expand the sound-world of the record; apparent in the reaffirming, sweeping musical collapse of the title track ‘You Belong There’, the mournful Spanish guitar and gorgeous vocal melancholy in ‘Celia’ and the deceptive folk psychedelia of spinning lament ‘Keeper and Kin’.
Though masterfully self-affirming as a whole body of work, the bookending ‘Repeat The Pattern’ could arguably be 'You Belong There’s defining moment; its pensive, near-mystical intent representative of Rossen’s handcrafted sonic odyssey coming full circle, while leaving an open space for wherever the craftsman may journey next.
Words: Kieran Macdonald-Brown
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