- Rose McCann Band, No Wonder
(North by South Records, digital)
Ah, the days of college recordings. Rolling into a basement studio at 11 p.m., swigging a Red Bull between vocal takes, even if sunrise is just around the corner. But most importantly: feeling like you're creating something truly special. No Wonder by Rose McCann Band is the University of Vermont duo's first EP. Though short — just three songs in nine minutes — it evokes a bit of that feel and does a great job of introducing a new local band.
The first track, "Please Yourself," was born in an Austin bar, according to the band. Against the song's light and summery vibe, vocalist Emma Downie — no, her name is not Rose McCann; yes, it is confusing — commands an uptight, solo drinker to let go of their insecurities and step out of their comfort zone. "I know you feel the music deep down in your soul / So why are you sitting at the bar pretending you're all alone?" she sings. The guest horns in the chorus sound delightfully like something from St. Paul & the Broken Bones and feature tenor saxophonist Fiona Love and trumpet player Nick Bowman. You can never go wrong with a nice little horn section.
The next track, "My Love," is a stripped-down number featuring just Downie and the other half of the duo, guitarist Ben Collins. Colored by Collins' jazzy electric guitar, this tender love song transports the listener to a smoky lounge, complete with cracked leather sofas and flickering tabletop candles. The pair seem at home in this track, which showcases their self-described "jazz-inspired blues rock" sound most effectively.
The EP closes with a coming-of-age track, "305." According to the band, the song is rooted in Downie's college experience. It's bouncy with a driving bass line, and it ties up this concise album with a bow. I even enjoyed the sax solo in the outro, and that's saying something, because I generally would rather chew on nails than listen to a sax solo.
In a press release, Rose McCann Band describe their music as a soundtrack to "your dew-wicked spring mornings, endless summer days with friends, and your darkest, coziest winter nights." Whether it was intentional or not, I could easily see "305," "Please Yourself" and "My Love" slotted into each of those seasons, respectively. This pandemic-born band is a welcome addition to the Burlington community, and I imagine No Wonder is only the start of much more music to come.
No Wonder is available on Spotify. Keep an eye on Rose McCann Band's Facebook page for upcoming shows around the Burlington area.