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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bess Rogers - Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers

Bess Rogers - Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers
2010, Hubbub!

A few years back Ingrid Michaelson saw years of hard work turn into overnight success because of social media. Somewhere along that path Michaelson had need for a lead guitarist. Through friends she found out about Brooklyn guitarist Bess Rogers. Rogers has been on the road with Michaelson ever since. You might call this series of events serendipity. Rogers loves all styles of music, playing almost everything under the sun. Aside from a solo career and playing lead for Michaelson she is also currently the front woman of The Flux Capacitors and plays guitar and keyboards for the electro-prog outfit The Age Of Rockets. Rogers is well known in Indie circles for her instrumental work, her songwriting and her voice, but name recognition has largely eluded her outside of distinct musical circles. That all changes on September 21, 2010, when Rogers releases Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers. While just a 5-song EP, Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers is the sort of musical calling card that moves an artist up the ladder of notoriety by leaps and bounds. Accordingly, Bess Rogers is the Wildy's World Artist of the Month for September, 2010.

Bess Rogers runs in a circle of musicians who trade musical styles like kids used to trade baseball cards. This melting pot of musical styles helps to explain the distinct pop sensibility that Rogers embeds in each song. But Rogers doesn't just make you want to dance; you'll find yourself getting deep into the lyrical pool that Rogers creates as well, as she spins melodies with a voice that's party every-woman and part angel. Comparisons to Regina Spektor and Juliana Hatfield abound, but there are elements of Ani DiFranco and Rachel Sage in Rogers' musical DNA as well. Rogers opens with "Come Home", an incredibly catchy number that in a perfect world would light up the pop charts for weeks on end. Rogers has penned a chorus that you'll be singing along with the very first time you hear it, and delivers the vocals with such an unaffected air that you can't help but instantly like her. It's a brilliant bit of songwriting. "What We Want" plays around the edges of greener grasses with the ultimate realization that all is well. It's another catchy tune with a great melody, even if Rogers does rely a bit heavily on repetition in the chorus.

Rogers writes without filters on "Good Enough", an exploration of turning yourself inside out to capture someone you'll never have. The contemplative, peaceful nature of the song hides a deep-seated anger and frustration that finally explodes in a dark, cloudy guitar exposition in the song's closing moments. Rogers doesn't need to go over the top to get her message across here, relying on subtle shifts in attitude and aspect and bare hints of irony and anger that lead to an explosion that is both less and more than you might expect. "Favorite Day" is a punk/folk/pop anthem in the form of a love song. Rogers reminisces about the moment when a relationship moved from fun to real for her. It's a tremendous exposition of the moment that catchy but affectionate and full of reverie. Rogers started out with brilliant pop, and closes with brilliance of another kind. "All In Good Fun" explores the emotional shrapnel of a relationship where she was left high and dry. It's a tremendous moment of vulnerability, written in raw emotional turns from someone who is perhaps at peace with what happened but still trying to clean up the mess it left behind. "All In Good Fun" may not have the pure pop feel to it that "Come Home" possesses, but it's an amazing song that could survive the snares of pop radio purgatory and win spins based on popular demand.

Songwriting can be likened to the process of creating gem stones. Each stone has its own characteristics based on the elements involved and the pressures applied to the process. Songwriting relies on basic elements as well (notes, words, rhythms), and the pressures applied are a combination of musical experience and exposure, personal experience, emotional makeup, etc. It seems likely that Rogers' vast musical experiences and competencies create an unusual creative tension in her songwriting process, and the emotional honesty of her songwriting rounds the rough edges that every gem is born with. Some songwriters create quartz; some create opals. On Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers, Rogers creates diamonds. Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers is a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Bess Rogers at or Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers drops on September 21, 2010 and is available from as a CD or Download.

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