Lost Chords & Serenades Divine #16 by Stephen McClurg

Dua Saleh: Rosetta EP  (2020)

The songs on Dua Saleh’s Rosettasurge through rap, pop, and rock–sometimes in the same track. Considering the namesake of the EP is Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Dua Saleh’s Sudanese-American Musilim background, the record expresses the desires, joys, and challenges of a multi-hyphenated existence.

A video of “Umbrellar” has qualities of both ‘90s hip hop and Afrofuturism. It’s a catchy single and evokes a similarly nostalgic, yet uplifting mood as something like Chastity Belt’s “Different Now.”

“Smut” begins as a rap that gets pitched into alien voices and then transforms into an electronic R&B track while holding threads from the opening. Toward the end, a guitar line comes in that would sit comfortably on a Cure album. The unique structure of “Smut” keeps growing on me.

“Windhymn” features organ, percussive sounds, and wailing among several vocal overdubs. There’s an effective whispering voice featured on this track and throughout the record. Here it makes sense as a wind hymn. The track ends not in a whisper, but in a rupturing jazz sample. One of Rosetta’s characteristics is the unexpected noisy qualities at the end of most tracks.

Like Dua Saleh, Sister Rosetta Tharpe is difficult to describe. Mostly well-known as a gospel artist, she played gospel in jazz settings and also is considered the Godmother of Rock and Roll. Though she was married a few times, she also had relationships with other women. Check out her record Gospel Trainfrom 1956. The first track “Jericho” is one of my favorite performances, as is this live performance of “Didn’t It Rain” that proves what a goddess she was.

Bandcamp is one of the best ways to support living musicians. Rosetta and other recent singles and EPs are available here.

Stephen McClurg (Episode 24) writes and teaches in Birmingham, Alabama. He co-hosts The Outrider Podcast, writes at Eunoia Solstice, and infrequently blogs. He has contributed music as a solo artist and with the group Necronomikids to past episodes of The Drunken Odyssey.