We chat with Esther Rose
Let’s just get it out there, How Many Times is a terrific album. It’s Esther Rose’s third and her best. Its folk-country vibes make it stand out as pretty unique in 2021. I spoke to Esther about the writing, recording, and making of the album.
Hey Esther, how’s your day so far?
Good morning. Black coffee and a quiet, calm morning so I’m feeling pretty good. How about you?
I think I’m doing alright thank you. Where are you right now?
I am in New Mexico. I’ve dreamed of moving here for many years and I finally made it happen quite recently. I am in love with the altitude and endless sunshine.
Tell us something about you that we won’t find in your bio.
I was a band nerd in high school. I played trombone and was the drum major of the marching band. You know, white gloves and a little whistle, the whole look. In New Orleans drum majors are very cool but in Columbiaville, MI I was just a nerd. Looking back, I'm super grateful because that leadership position informed me on how to lead my own band someday.
You’ve just released How Many Times, how would you sum up the album in a couple of sentences?
I do my best work within the confines of poetry so I wrote this haiku for you instead:
please don’t make me try
just listen to the music
and read the reviews
I think there’s a real swoon-y country sort of feel to it, what was the aesthetic you were looking for when you went into the studio?
Honestly we didn’t have an aesthetic in mind. My band and I have been playing together for years and we have naturally developed our sound from deep listening and making space for each other to shine. I think the lo-fi, honky-tonk aesthetic comes from recording live with a reel-to-reel. You feel like you’re in the room with us, it’s very close and warm.
One of my favourite songs is ‘Coyote Creek’, what’s that song about?
Thank you! That one was especially fun to write. I love how the chorus just comes out of nowhere. A lot of my songwriting comes from memories and this song is a great example of that. It’s like a photograph - what you see is what was there.
‘Good Time’ was one of the songs you “pre-released”, what was it about that song that made it a good teaser for the record?
Someone described this song as a “folk-tinged banger”. I wanted to share it early because it’s pretty rocking and I don’t think many people have heard that side of me yet.
There’s some beautiful guitar on the album, particularly the middle section of ‘When You Go’, how much of a guitar aficionado are you?
Matt Bell’s lap steel performance on ‘When You Go’ is astounding. I would say I am a low-to-moderate guitar aficionado. I focus on the songwriting and then surround myself with exceptional musicians. The folks that I am drawn to collaborating with have a laid-back approach to rhythm, know how to support the arrangement and let the lyrics lead.
I really love the penultimate song, ‘Are You Out There’, as well, how important is track order to you when finalising the album?
Thank you! I spent months toying with the track order and developing an emotional arch. The record starts pretty bleak, then slowly winds up and by the end of side A it’s feeling pretty wild. Flip over to side B and we’re back on the very bottom with a long slow burn to the end. The last song, ‘Without You’, is just such a bumping tune and it felt great to close with that ecstatic energy.
If there was one thing that you think is different about you or your music, from This Time Last Night to now, what would it be?
I have a lot more freckles now.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2021?
I don’t want to give too much away but there are some very exciting collaborations down the line.
Who (or what) has inspired you?
Black coffee, soft kisses, strong wind, the natural world, my songwriter community.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
I don’t know but I certainly am grateful you wanted to ask me anything at all.
Finally, how do you take your coffee? Damn, you’ve already done that one.