Folk music reminds us of where we came from and informs us about where we’re going –– or at least that’s the bracing ethos of Montreal-based band Rosier.
A group who spent their formative years wrapped in rich, untouched musical traditions, they are just as attuned to the present and the future, challenging and redefining their world through a modern lens. Rosier injects exuberant color into familiar folk sounds, taking the roots that they have grown from and spinning their foundations into a movement. The result is mature, well-controlled music filled with emotion and a surprising freshness relevant in today’s shifting climates.
Reclaiming and interpreting the romantic traditions of Quebecois folk, the bilingual band Rosier was born from a place of living heritage. These offspring of a pioneering generation of Canadian folk musicians were raised together in the underbelly of music festivals with folk music beneath their fingernails and tradition on their tongues. This upbringing created a unique bond unlike any other; the quintet evolved together musically and individually, immersed in generations of story and song yet influenced by the world around them. They were driven not to simply reproduce the music of their beloved culture but to redefine it.
The band’s first iteration was in 2009 and they were known as Les Poules à Colin (the name was based on a funny traditional song everyone knew: La Poule à Colin). Trad lyrics were added to their original compositions, creating a layered sound that beckoned to the past while adding a youthful edge.
The feeling of shifting identities and the organic growth of the band was the source of the group’s name change and the inspiration behind their upcoming self-titled EP, Rosier, released in September. It celebrates the inevitable passage of time and the coming-of-age struggle everyone faces in defining themselves.
“Rosier is our true selves. We are romantic people full of balanced contrast who evolve and grow together as one,” explains the band. Produced by Quinn Bachand, the EP draws from myriad and unlikely sources: the woes of romance, French Canada’s past, and their future as a tight-knit group, now grown up and sharing a collective history.
Rosier – or rosebush – is a recurring image in traditional music. A decade of playing together has shaped the band’s music and dictated its wide swath of sensibilities, from the “breathtakingly forlorn lyricism,” (Toronto Music Report) of their 2014 album, Ste-Waves, to the “exotic, oddly-ancient-sounding beats,” (Songlines) of their 2017 release, Morose.
Songlines went on to praise the band for their “…brave contemporary takes on traditional folk songs… Each track is a story in itself set to skilled arrangements that soar and weave with a timeless beauty while sweet melodies interplay with the unexpected rhythmic and instrumental verve of jazz.”
Their eponymous release, Rosier (2019), features the band’s steadfast original lineup: front-woman Béatrix Méthé (lead vocals and fiddle), Colin Savoie-Levac (lap steel, banjo and foot percussion), Sarah Marchand (lead vocals and keys), Éléonore Pitre (acoustic and electric guitar) and Marie Savoie-Levac (bass); everyone helps out on background vocals.
The quintet has performed in major cities and small towns in Canada, the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and Africa, amassing impressive international experience. Having earned recognition in their own community, Rosier continues to explore the alloys between Quebec folk and a mix of indie, jazzy, pop, bluegrass and contemporary styles. They immerse us in their universe through original compositions, sophisticated arrangements, harmonic progressions and reinvented traditions, connecting generations through origin and craft.