Return of the Ellington by Rosalie Cunningham

Release date: March 29, 2024
Label: Esoteric Antenna / Machine Elf

Continuing where the ‘Donovan Ellington’ story had left off from her 2022 release Two Piece Puzzle, I hit the play button on my old iPod Touch, to see where Rosalie Cunningham had left off with the main character. And it’s very much the conclusion of what happened to our hero after he sailed from sea many years ago. To become a family man and telling the stories to his children, reflecting the days sailing the seas, discovering new lands.

Rosalie does it again. Between Purson and her first two solo albums released on the Esoteric Antenna, she has proven to be a fighter, and never backing down without a fight. There’s a lot of progression, hard rock, elements of Ted Nugent’s opening riff to ‘Stranglehold’, Fairport’s Ric Sanders going into town with his violin, Jethro Tull’s Benefit-era, Gentle Giant’s ‘Wreck’, fanfare Hammonds, and sea shanty motifs that just floor you top to bottom.

Cunningham is like a flower brought to life and revealing her true glory to see what she’ll do next as we wait for her follow-up album To Shoot Another Day to come out. Between Rosalie, Rosco Wilson, flutist Claudia Gonzalez Diaz, and drummer Raph Mura, you would never know what to expect. Closing out the 7” single is her nod to Randy Newman’s lyrical textures with ‘Home’.


She’s sings in the style of ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ from the 1995 animated classic Toy Story. But you imagine this track where Rosalie puts on her cowboy hat, riding her horse, and heads home for a long, long, day at the O.K. Corral. You have the Mellotron, waltz-like grooves, honky-tonk piano, and baroque-like textures. Not to mention the jazzy arrangements where she wants to lay down and have some stress eating junk food that awaits her.

I can imagine Rosalie was listening to Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare’s song ‘Some Folks’ for inspiration to add that vaudeville sound where she dances and sings in the styles of Fred Astaire. Her vocals still send shivers down your spine, whenever she hits those notes very well.

It took me a few listens to get a feel on where the direction she wants to take those two tracks. For Rosalie, she’s got enough engine to get the wheels rolling by giving us a sneak peek for what’s to come. And whether you get it, or you don’t, you have to appreciate the accomplishment on her mission to bring the Ellington story in full.

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