For her third album, Philly songwriter Rosali Middleman has buried her past and walked away with a charred changeling of an album. While her songwriting has in the past certainly carried weight, No Medium is a cohesive work of exorcism and soul examination, wrought from a pre-pandemic isolation and brought to life alongside members of The David Nance Group. Rosali works through addiction, disappointment, damage, and acceptance over an album that’s sketched out on the bones of turbulent classics like I Want To See The Bright Lights and No Other. Like those works, she plums her darkest corners to create songs of radiant, ragged beauty. The kind of songs that nag at the mind late at night rather than soundtrack the clothes rack in any supervisor’s easy pick playlist.
Portions of the album deal with leaving behind alcohol, and the temperament that washes over No Medium feels like surfacing from the water, clear-eyed and cold. Burnt into the driftwood desires of these songs is a message to the self, scrawled with ash and tossed to the waves for no other soul to see. It’s a transformative album, aided sublimely by the well-oiled howl of the band she’s assembled. The stories here give a flash of the wounds beneath their words, but never lets them dominate, pairing the pain with a defiant stare. Rosali has set herself up as the myth, the fool, and the hero. The album lets vulnerability guide towards absolution, but like all of us the guilt of youth never really washes out, it just fades to a hum in the background. Thankfully No Medium can turn that hum into a collection of songs that keep you fighting the pull every day.
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