Blue Rose Code “Bright Circumstance”

Independent, 2024

Unlocking the code to joy.

Blue Rose Code, Bright Circumstance 2024Blue Rose Code (Ross Wilson) returns with his first album in four years, a period marked not only by new fatherhood but also by extensive touring with his dynamic seven-piece band. ‘Bright Circumstance‘ is a carefully crafted collection that lulls, beguiles, and weaves songs about suffering and the consolations of the human heart.

Opening with ‘Jericho,’ a propulsive burst of horns and energy that delivers on the band’s live performance credentials, it swirls vigorously with Caledonian soul. “It’s been a long time coming… but here we go.” Wilson’s vocals are soulful and urgent. Throughout, there’s a dichotomy, weaving between the bright and dark, love and mercy, desperate circumstances, and small victories of the heart.

Sadie‘ is a close portrait of addiction. Wilson stated that it was “written from a very personal perspective, a song about generational trauma and addiction,” its pained lyrics underpinned by a beautifully evocative pedal steel. ‘Thirteen Years‘ reflects on the desolation wrought by Tory policies, asking, “Why should one child go to sleep tonight hungry or cold?

The album title alludes to the Buddhist practices that inspire the album, intertwining reality and the human capacity to transcend suffering through thought—like the golden age Haiku poet, Issa, wrote, “We walk on the roof of hell / gazing at flowers.” This album sings this song in all its joy and sorrow. It’s realised most perfectly on ‘Never Know Why.‘ That matches sunny horns and shimmering Vampire Weekend guitar with Zen Koan-like lyrics that suggest our joy, in some part, is unnameable to us, “‘There’s a certain code of joy on the mundane path we tread.” That code might be unknowable, but at the heart of our shared consciousness is love. Love, kindness, and humanity; ‘Bright Circumstance’’s cup overflows.

Wilson’s writing is filled with humanity. There are many gifts; bright bouquets like ‘Easy as We Go‘, or quieter consolations like the acoustic psalm ‘Peace In Your Heart.‘ The cover of ‘Amazing Grace‘ feels well-earned and triumphs, while ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ stirs with a slow build into a holy evocation, proclaiming, “The divine in me sees the divine in you.” It’s engaging emotional rescue, peak era Van Morrison.

The album contains contributions from folk icons like Danny Thompson, Steve Knightley, and the marvellous Eddie Reader. ‘Bright Circumstance’ oscillates between the grim circumstances of existence and salvation and joy. The result is a beautifully crafted, open-hearted meditation—a rich and rewarding experience.

8/10
8/10

About Tom Harding 14 Articles
A writer with a love of all things country, folk, jazz and blues. By night I'm a poet with two published poetry books from Palewell Press, latest available now, "Afternoon Music." www.tomharding.net
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Alan Peatfield

Thanks Tom; a very well written review. Excellent album – well worth the wait.