19u / singer-songwriter / psychedelica / prog en folkrock / €12,50
Released in July 2019 to immediate widespread acclaim, former Purson singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist ROSALIE CUNNINGHAM’s eponymous début album – her first with the Esoteric Antenna label, part of the Cherry Red group – was the result of an extended period of reflection. Containing some of her most compelling and daring songwriting to date, the album justifiably earned a Top 10 placing in the UK’s official independent chart.
As pre-orders of the Mercury Music Prize-nominated album were exhausted in just 48 hours, critics were united in their reactions to the solo artist’s reinvention. While major publications including Classic Rock, Mojo and Kerrang gave stellar ratings in their uniformly positive reviews, Cunningham also featured in a number of ‘Best of the Year’ polls. In Europe, popular German music magazine Eclipse voted her album the year’s ninth best release, however, back home in the UK, Prog listed it as 2019’s third best album, behind Opeth and Big Big Train.
Further accolades from Prog came when the magazine named Cunningham the “eighth greatest female musician of all time”.
Fronting a brand new five-piece outfit, Cunningham came storming out of the starting gate that summer with a live session on BBC 6 Music and an extraordinarily well-received tour of the UK, offering what reviewer Mike Ainscoe described as a “wholly immersive experience”.
All the signs pointed towards a golden 2020 for the Southend-born artist, who was in preparation for appearances at a raft of leading European festivals and a tour of North America when the COVID-19 pandemic put everything on indefinite hold. “The year had started so well with a very successful tour that was sold out at almost every venue,” said Cunningham. “The first vinyl pressing of the album flew off the shelves ridiculously quickly and we were just about to have a repress when COVID hit like a wrecking ball. I’m just one of hundreds of thousands of musicians whose careers were halted in such an unprecedented way by the cancellation or postponement of tours and festivals.
“Despite the crushing disappointment, we tried out best to remain positive, especially as many of the festival slots we were due to play were re-booked for 2021, such as Northern Kin and the Manchester Psych Festival.”
Sadly, the ever-popular Fairport’s Cropredy Convention was forced to postpone for a second year, meaning that Cunningham’s idyllic afternoon slot between the legendary Matthews Southern Comfort and Richard Thompson will have to wait until 2022. In place of last year’s festival, however, the event’s pioneering founders Fairport Convention invited Cunningham, 31, to take part as a featured singer on a ‘lockdown’ recording of their classic song ‘Meet On The Ledge’. Starring all five current members of Fairport, as well as Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Ralph McTell and Clannad original Moya Brennan, the track was released last August to raise funds for Help Musicians UK.