Sometimes the whole point of a gig is that someone has found a way of expressing something through music that cannot be bettered by word or image. Reviewing such occasions feels like transforming the exquisitely crafted into the make-do mundane. Yet this is the challenge that Rozi Plain poses. Her intimate and relaxed set at Modern Art Oxford was a joy. The band was completely at one with one another; the instruments interacted as if in conversation with old friends, each still bringing something particular to the gentle chatter. The songs were touching.
As a little background, Rozi Plain is Bristol-based singer songwriter who has toured with Devendra Banhart, KT Tunstall, James Yorkston and Viking Moses, as well making appearances at festivals such as Green Man, End of the Road and Glastonbury. She has three albums out, the most recent of which Friends she released in May of this year.
Rozi has an unusual, soft singing voice that under different circumstances (alongside an acoustic guitar perhaps, or more so a ukulele) could come off a little ‘Zooey Deschanel’, but placed alongside the band’s complex dialogues, is recast as something else entirely. She sounds inquisitive, gently provocative and down-to-earth. Her guitar playing is equally contradictory: steady and experimental at the same time. Try to describe her overall style and sound in words, however, and you hit the problem of the make-do mundane. Warm, happy, grounded and occasionally a little Wes Anderson-esque gives you an idea, although this vibe was perhaps aided by the cozy setting of the cellar at Modern Art and the half standing, half sitting (on the floor) crowd, which gave it all a rather idyllic hipster feel.
One thing’s for sure: encountering Rozi Plain’s delicate musical craftsmanship can’t help but remind anyone with a creative inclination just how joyful it is to be able to communicate something beautifully and effortlessly. You might think this review a little short, but that’s the nature of reviewing a gig that wasn’t loud or one-off or ‘the next big thing’, but rather just incredibly enjoyable, intricate and heartening.