Rosie Tucker’s songs are worlds in themselves. They start in conversation with an immediate environment: small, detailed, the characters and landscapes drawn vividly, with life and wit. Then they zoom out to reveal a wider world.
Indelible new single "Ambrosia" capitalizes on these strengths with its wry, cautiously optimistic, sharply observed scenes: "you've got money stress so I pick up the check / I check my balance as I lean to one side," goes one lyric. Then as the story unfolds, "Nothing is simple just 'cause you wish that it is," the last line pines. Tucker (who uses they/them pronouns) sings each line with a reassuring lilt, their voice welcoming, warm, thoughtful and questioning. Then, halfway through the song, and again at the end, Tucker bellows out an extended and loud sigh: "AAH-AAH AAH-AAH-AAH-AAH-AAAAAAAAH" as the band bangs away in a cathartic gust of frustration.
Made with close collaborators Wolfy, Anna Arboles, and Jessica Reed, who form a muscular, guitar-driven quartet, "Ambrosia" (out September 23 on the New Professor label) follows up Tucker's 2019 label debut Never Not Never Not Never Not, an album heaped with praise by NPR, who called Tucker "sincere, with a gift for metaphor and a clear understanding of just how precarious life can be," as well as Stereogum, Paste, Uproxx, LA Weekly, The Grey Estates, and The Alternative, who wrote, "There are many moments on Never Not Never Not Never Not when all of the components (vocals, lyrics, instrumentals) conjoin into one, succinct display of perfection."
Tucker’s songs call to mind a few contemporaries: Hop Along, Frankie Cosmos, Mitski. And they evoke a few predecessors: cult-favorite singer songwriters from the 1960s like Dusty Springfield, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sibylle Baier, Norma Tanega, Karen Dalton. But Rosie Tucker songs are set apart in their specificity, self-awareness, and obvious care for the craft of songwriting and the practice of making art. “I’m a big fan of musical eccentrics,” Tucker says. “I really appreciate creativity and zaniness. The spontaneous approach to music that Erik Satie took: he was very eccentric. He only ate eggs for a long time. He bought seven velvet suits and tried to start a religion. He composed music toiling in obscurity. "I like art that happens when people toil in obscurity, although I guess that's not my goal right now.”