Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Byla Rose: "Time" OMN featured video / Premiere

"This is my ‘carpe diem’ song. If you are rich or poor, sick or well… no matter your circumstances the story ends the same for us all at some point. So we should aspire to live in the moment, seize the day, as nothing is a given except the passage of time." -- Byla Rose

“This is my ‘carpe diem’ song. If you are rich or poor, sick or well… no matter your circumstances the story ends the same for us all at some point. So we should aspire to live in the moment, seize the day, as nothing is a given except the passage of time.

 Apropos then that this video was filmed during the recording sessions for How Far at Steakhouse Studio in Los Angeles in 2017. It is a wonderful snapshot of one of my most cherished memories: making magic out of thin air with these amazing musicians. Living fully in that moment. I am so lucky to have a recording of it!” – JULIA

David Immergluck, Guitar, Mandolin, Pedal Steel (Counting Crows, John Hiatt)
Larry Taylor, Bass (Canned Heat, Tom Waits)
Stephen Hodges, Drums & Percussion (Mavis Staples, Tom Waits)
Kudisan Kai, Backup Vocals (Roger Waters, Chaka Khan)
We are told:
The spring is a spectacular time to meet your new favorite song-poet/singer. BYLA ROSE is the nom de plume of Julia Rose Cummings, and her debut How Far blossoms into the world on March 5, its effervescent Laurel Canyon pop-soul a perfect soundtrack to a season of joyful change and the sweet blues of moving on.

Cummings calls her music Pacific Coast Folk, and if that reminds you of certain classic hissing summer lawns and dear pals falling in love in dive bars, spot on. Her influences are not overt but span decades of emotionally blissful but mindful music you may have inherited from your parents (Cohen, Waits, Al Green) or discovered on your own (Mazzy Star, Fiona Apple). 

Now based in Seattle, she was born in Bolinas, CA, grew up in Hawaii, and went to college in Oregon. BYLA ROSE are Cummings’ middle names, and both evoke the possibilities of the Emerald City, where people journey out to reinvent themselves inside the beauty of rain-nourished foliage and battered Western tenements. 

Tracks you can already hear on your timeless late night FM radio include: 

Title track “How Far,” one of her earliest tunes, where she asks, “How far do you have to go before you realize you never left home?” And about which she explains, “I like how the two words make a question in and of themselves. It is a complete sentence. But it also implies an ellipsis …That sentence can end many different ways.” 

Opening mystical folk-rock anthem “What Water Does” evokes times of wondering what happened to our days, and moments in reflection before we make our next big move. It begins, “What do you want to be when you grow up? A writer a waiter or a cop? Or a car dealer? Or a cheerleader? I want to be something simple enough.” It rides a wonderful riff that sounds like something you’d hear in a park at summer dusk, sipping stolen sacramental wine and lighting up sparklers. 

The easing, tender “A Secret” gleams like a breakthrough ballad, touching on fears and weaknesses and addictions we universally share, in a very personal voice. “I’ve got a secret I’ll never confess … I carry it with me when I’ve nothing left.” At the heart of How Far, it drops the narrative to a hush, showing the roots of these lines in Cummings’ own life. 

How Far was produced by John Wooler and engineered by Ryan Potesta at Steakouse Studios in Los Angeles. Her band includes David Immerglück on acoustic, electric, pedal, and mandolin; the rhythm section is Larry Taylor (veteran of Woodstock Festival) on bass, with the legendary drummer and percussionist Stephen Hodges, both of them having done so as well for Tom Waits’ classics Rain Dogs and Mule Variations. Rounding out the recording crew is vocalist Kudisan Kai. They all contribute creatively to the acoustic-kissed songs, leaving plenty of space for Cummings to ruminate as if she was alone walking along a cornfield after a beautiful bonfire. 

Cummings been woodshedding her wild ginger honey song-craft for 20 years, and it shows all over How Far. It’s a lean, tight but relaxed gem with astonishingly good lyrics that seem taken from confessions in a journal on a romance-inspired road trip, and finely practiced into songs that would have dominated radio in the singer/songwriter era. And it’s a great bet its ebullient baptism into the world might bring that music back into the lives to those who worship at the water, live within the breath and chords of a true bard, and siren.  

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