The Drifter and the Gypsy is an album that should be an incoherent mess. Although Rosi Golan had a hand in writing all of the songs, almost every one has a different co-writer or set of co-writers. C’est L’amour even has a different producer than the rest of the album. This suggests, a) that Golan probably only wrote the lyrics, and b) that the album is the work of a young artist who doesn’t know what she sounds like yet.
But, that’s not what happens. The Drifter and the Gypsy is a coherent whole. Golan must have at least guided the writing of the music, because the whole thing hangs together well. And, although this is a debut album, Golan knows what she wants to do here, and gets it done.
Golan presents a set of love songs. She dives into a one night stand in Paris in C’est L’amour. She describes the point at which she is ready for a long term commitment in Think of Me. She thinks of a love she may have given up too soon in Yesteryear. So love comes in many flavors here. It scares her sometimes, while at other times she basks in the joy of it. There is a push and pull on her heart. The sequencing of the songs might have told a linear story, but Golan has chosen not to do that. These are songs about emotional states, and emotions don’t come in a premeditated order. The whole thing feels instinctual and honest.
Golan carries off these mood changes not just with her words, but more importantly with her voice. She can belt out a tune, although she never oversings. And she can also get all the emotion she needs with an almost whisper. Her dynamic range is impressive. She sings in a high alto, but the quality of her voice reminds me of Sarah McLaughlin, with some touches of Paula Cole.
Some of the songs have mostly acoustic settings, with drums, stand up bass, and acoustic guitars. Others use drums, electric bass, and electric guitars, plus keyboards. The album closes with a beautiful piano ballad, Been a Long Day. A couple of other songs start as piano ballads, but then the full band joins in. And banjo, mandolin, and even ukulele appear to add flavor in places. Again, this could fly out all over the place, but it sounds nicely varied within a consistent style. What ties it all together is feel. All of this variety is used in the service of the songs and the emotions they convey.
In her future, I would imagine that Golan will find co-writers that she prefers to work with. She may decide to write some songs solo. In living her life, she will experience a wider range of emotions. All of this should make this promising young artist even better. I’ll be eager to hear the results.
Rosi Golan: Yesteryear
Rosi Golan: C‘est L‘amour