Album Review: Rosie Carney – I Dreamed I Was The Night

[Color Study; 2020]

During these strange, worrying, and almost entirely indoor times, all music takes on a new quality: everything becomes quarantine music. This could be the soothing ambient music we use to relax to in a stressful household full of family, energetic hot jazz to get us moving across the kitchen floor for our daily exercise, or just anything of any genre that speaks to us in a personal way by saying, “I get it, things are tough.”

In certain regards Rosie Carney‘s music is pretty well suited for the times in which we currently live. The Irish musician makes hushed, personable indie folk that seems like it’s being sung from the end of your bed. It’s intimate with a beautiful hint of unattainability; it’s warm, but with cold and dark cores. Her 2019 debut album, Bare, was quietly sprawling slice of Carney at her best, delivering on the reserved promise of her early singles.

Her follow up, the i dreamed i was the night EP, arrives under very different circumstances to her debut. This three-song release builds on the palette from Bare and takes a few steps upwards, but it still very much delivers the same qualities that made listeners fall in love with her music before. It still feels like music to keep you company. Despite its brevity, i dreamed i was the night feels fully realised: the instrumentation carries more weight this time round, there’s no scope for excess, and Carney sings with a marked up confidence.

Indeed, the video for “when i look at you” has Carney front and centre, taking a new venture into dancing choreography as dark red and summer yellow lights are cast upon her. Visually, it was a bold new venture for Carney, but the music is the real star. The track soars gently, already levitating from the start with acoustic guitar and and delicate keys hiding underneath.

With reverberating piano chords and glacier clear synth hums, “i spoke to god again” builds to an ethereal and icy limbo halfway through that could easily be something culled from Sigur Rós’ discography. It’s wistful and delicate, but the swell is no less impactful. Carney delivers a fine song about personal faith too, speaking about the reassuring calm faith can bring without preaching or beating the listener over the head about it.

The yearning on “i dreamed i was the night” is perhaps Carney’s starkest to date; when she sings “say something” or “oh god tell me i’m someone you’re still dreaming of” her heart sounds like it’s pouring out from deep chasms of pain and doubt. It easy to read the latter line either as if she’s pleading to God directly or just looking to them for an answer. One of Carney’s strengths is the way she makes something that sounds inherently personal to her not read as too specific so as to lose the mass appeal. You can pick apart her lyrics should you please, but equally apply your own emotional state onto the songs.

At first glance these tracks don’t veer too far from the sounds on Bare, but some fine production allows the subtle swells of accompanying drums and keys to seep beneath your skin. A select few bass notes rumble gently beneath the surface near the start of “when i look at you” and it sets in motion a build of music that washes over you with equal measures of grace and sadness. Production expertise like this help comparisons to Laura Marling come to the surface, and they aren’t unwarranted. Like Marling, Carney is proving herself from an early age (she signed a record deal at just 16); her songwriting skills speak for themselves, her voice has a dynamic and assured range, and each subsequent release is an improvement on what came before it. i dreamed i was the night is short enough to tantalise listeners for the next release, but rewarding and substantial enough to stand by itself. What comes next (and when it comes) remains unknown to us at this point in time, but until it comes along, this EP will keep listeners in good company – especially in quarantine. She whispers from the end of your bed, but also summons you out of it.