Rose Polenzani @ Club Passim

My, oh my, how I pity you if you were unlucky enough to miss Rose Polenzani’s CD release show at Club Passim last week. That was ninety minutes of music heaven, and one of the best live shows I’ve seen in twenty years of livin’, folks. (Oops, I just exposed my real age to the TBA audience!)

First, some context. Rose Polenzani, a force to be reckoned with on the Boston singer-songwriter scene, has her latest release in The Rabbit: a set of thirteen gorgeous songs that sound more like prayers than anything else I’ve ever heard. For me, Rose Polenzani is the female Sufjan Stevens: poignant and poetic, soft and quiet, with an ear for music, melody, and arrangement that most will never know. She’s really an artist, and she’s never been better than she is on The Rabbit. So far, it’s my favorite record of the year, and I’d recommend it to just about anyone with two ears and a soul that needs soothing.

So, seeing as Club Passim in Cambridge is the headquarters of the folk scene in the Boston area, it made perfect sense that Rose would choose to have her CD release at the legendary acoustic hotspot. The best part was, she didn’t come alone. Oh, no. The studio band—consisting of the awesome musicians like Sean Staples, Dinty Child, Rose Cousins, and Laura Cortese— was there to join her, something like twelve people packed onto Passim’s tiny stage like the most talented sardines you’ve ever seen. The show was unsurprisingly sold out. And if more people knew about ConcertWindow, Passim’s live-streaming site, the Internet very well may have shut down, unable to handle what it was being given. (Also, whenever Rose Cousins is in someone else’s band, you just go, regardless. Do it.)

Rose came out by herself for a few songs to start the night off, and it was a real treat to hear “Married Man” (from her 2004 CD, August, which is one of my favorite records of all time, and apparently Rose’s most downloaded song on iTunes) and “Wedding Bands,” an outtake from The Rabbit which will be featured on an EP that Polenzani plans to release in the Fall that will include this record’s outtakes as well as some from 2007’s Where The River Meets The Sea.

Then the band came out to join her in playing The Rabbit from start to finish, recreating the experience of recording the album for us fortunate plebeians. I actually won’t say too much more, because the night seriously feels holy and sacred to me, but it was the closest approximation to a religious experience that I can ever remember having. And that’s putting it lightly. The show, this record, a beaming seven-months-pregnant Rose, the Boston music scene in general— all of it felt and continues to feel worth celebrating, worth praising. So much goodness. The band was swapping instruments left and right, Dinty Child played the drums on a mic’d leather shoe, Rose Polenzani and Rose Cousins sang in perfect harmony like a chorus of angels. Everyone left Passim that night stunned into pure elation, and humbled by Rose Polenzani’s musical genius.

“The Rabbit” is now available on iTunes, and for more information about Rose, check out www.rosepolenzani.com

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