Rosemary & Garlic have released some of the most beautifully wistful acoustic music in the last few years. I was saddened when the duo became just Anne van den Hoogen but she has continued in exactly the same intent the opening chapter of the name began. ‘A Step Out’ is an ode to that first chapter – a live EP that documents the songs of this period with a full band approach.
‘Old Now’ is one of my favourite tracks of the last few years and in opening the EP is gives absolute justice to the original. Adding strings and piano to the lonesome guitar riffs and Anne’s silky voice is inspired. The extended outro is also beautifully cinematic. ‘Take This Hand’ then takes a more minimal approach. Stripping away all the backing vocals and warming production we have Anne giving a more sparse vocal performance. As it lets the guitar take the lead in those spaces, it feels so delicately put together, as does ‘The Kingfisher’. The latter track is just as eerie yet crystalline live as Anne’s vocals echo around the piano. ‘The Dancers’ has a much more urgent feel to it with live drummer upping the tension. As the song flows down the chords, the drums and taut strings back the flowing piano like a Sarah Slean piece. ‘Blue Boy’ and ‘Dreamer’ close out the EP with two gorgeous renditions that are neat studio perfect.
Whilst ‘A Step Outside’ is perhaps not the best place to start, it is an absolute must for fans of Rosemary & Garlic. Her live performances are spot on and the full band arrangements breath a slightly different tone of wonderment out of each song. Sublime.
Recommended track: Old Now
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