Rosner keeps getting better
For her third full-length album as a recording artist, Danni Rosner takes her audience on a trip out West. This record is the story of Danni uprooting herself from the East Coast to California in search of her dreams. The listener is brought on the journey with her, feeling the excitement and anxiety, joy and sadness, and confidence and uncertainty throughout the album. It is a journey that marks a significant change in Rosner’s life, and in her maturity as an artist. The songs are well-paced, catchy, sophisticated, emotional, and the resulting whole is greater than the sum of their parts. The listener is drawn in by Rosner, and the story of moving, transition, change, growth, and reflection rings true in a way that is easy to connect with; it’s an age old tale that we all understand.
She begins the album with the upbeat “West”, opening with the words, “Something’s gotta change.” Rosner gets straight to the point and explains that she’s “Growing past the tallest trees”; it’s time to move on. It’s easy to feel her excitement to begin this journey and warms the listener to come along with her. “It’s a risk / that I’m willing to take / and I’ll go / out west.”
On “Dreams”, Rosner reflects on how far she’s come, what she has been able to accomplish, and expounds on the challenging life as a recording/performing artist. She speaks of listening to her soul, and she belts that as such during the song’s chorus. She’s communicating to the audience the urgency of these dreams, and it’s almost enough to make one stop and think of their own.
“Night Like Tonight” is a self-reflection piece about the warm summer nights in her home state of Virginia. It speaks to the difficulties of leaving the familiar; people, places, and those truly personal images and settings that make home, home. A guitar solo is featured on this track, which is not common for Rosner, but fits in nicely amongst her typically piano-heavy tunes. The catchy melody makes this one easy to sing along to, and easy to get lodged in one’s head.
Things slow down for a few tracks starting with “Different.” Rosner sings with confidence and feeling here, expressing that “I am different now,” backed nicely by a subtle and intelligently used pedal steel, and what sounds like a trio of background singers. It adds to the depth of the song, and keeps the listener hooked.
Then Rosner takes, what is easy to think amounts to a strange transition, with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” But it fits. The pedal steel is more prominent on this track, but the focus is on her voice and expressiveness. For an artist that thrivse off using her voice in a variety of convincing ways, “Wild Horses” is Rosner’s bread and butter. For such a frequently covered song, Rosner is able to put her own signature on it in the context of a single track, and the entire album.
“Like You Do” is a stripped down love song, featuring Rosner’s piano with cello and violin backing. The song is a testament to Rosner’s musical and song-writing maturity on this album, and the arrangement is perfect. She sings with great emotion, and isn’t afraid to slow the track down at different points and let the music speak for itself. This song stands on its own, is one of the best on the album, and fits perfectly in the middle. This is an absolutely beautiful song, and there’s not a whole lot more to say about it after that.
One of the things that Rosner does incredibly well on this album is its pacing. She gradually slows things down with “Different” and brings it to a crawl with “Like You Do.” The seventh track, “I’ll Be Fine” brings the tempo back up, but not too much. It lets the listener catch their breath, and doesn’t overwhelm. It’s followed by the similarly paced “On and On”, a song fitting into the album’s theme of reflection and longing. It’s easy to relate to this track’s message of missing something and wanting more – “Wake up every morning / and nothing has changed / Read a few pages in my book / it all reads the same.” It would have been easy for Rosner to get caught up in clichés on an album about change, but her lyrical style is clever and intelligent – she never gives the listener a reason to roll their eyes.
Then Rosner slows it down again with “Seeker”, another song about “Searching for my youth / through the thickness and darkness of the truth / This march is hard / but I have to find my way.” She continues to express the challenges of her journey, and seems to battle herself on these difficult decisions and changes that she’s going through.
The album ends with the lullaby-like “Homeward Bound.” All we get on this song is Rosner’s piano, and her solo voice, which is harmonized for the chorus. She turns the spotlight squarely onto herself, and reminds the audience that all she really needs is her voice and a little piano to make a great tune. The song is under three-minutes, and ends the same way it started – “In the quiet misty morning / when the moon has gone to bed / When the sparrows stop their singing / I’ll be homeward bound again.” And that’s it; it’s over. It just ends with a little piano, and it’s not nearly enough. It leaves the listener feeling, “Well now what?” And that’s why it’s so good.
Rosner beautifully ends the album on a high note, and that’s also where this album leaves her young career at this point.