Jon DeRosa: “Birds of Brooklyn”
There’s really nothing simple about the career of Jon DeRosa. The 33-year-old artist has made a few twists and turns in his musical journey: from Danzig-loving youth to teenage classical guitar student and goth to ambiant alchemist and composer. This week DeRosa issues his newest solo record Wolf In Preacher’s Clothes.
By the time DeRosa turned 18, he had settled into leading the dark, folk act Dead Leaves Rising. The young musician funded the band’s moody debut full-length Shadow Complex with money from part-time high school jobs. Dead Leaves Rising would go on to release a sophomore album in 2001 before officially disbanding in 2002. But DeRosa isn’t one to put all his musical eggs in one basket. In 1998 DeRosa embarked on very different sort of project. Recording under the name Aarktica, he created moody, guitar-based soundscapes with very minimal lyrical content. Aarktica’s first record No Solace in Sleep came out in 2000, and DeRosa continues to create music under the name throughout the 00s. In 2003, DeRosa (this time using the name Pale Horse and Rider) issued the austere, country-infused record
These Are the New Good Times. As if he didn’t already have enough on his plate with his own solo projects, DeRosa also played guitar in the chamber pop ensemble Flare, and in 2006 he contributed vocals to Stephin Merritt’s (of The Magnetic Fields fame) opera “The Peach Blossom Fan.”
DeRosa’s new record A Wolf in Preacher’s Clothes is only his second under his own name. Today’s song of the day, “Birds of Brooklyn,” opens the album. One of the most striking features of the song is DeRosa’s rich baritone. It resembles Morrissey’s a bit in its grand, expressiveness (with maybe the slightest dash of his childhood hero Glenn Danzig thrown in as well). The music itself is lovely. A lilting, slightly Latin rhythm guides the verses under gentle acoustic guitar and mellow keys. Even when the song ramps up in the chorus with swells of strings and horns, it’s grand but beautifully understated. The song has sweep and drama. It’s almost like DeRosa took small bits from every part of his very productive career to craft it.