Nandi Rose is on her own again, and three songs into her new album The Caretaker, the singer, songwriter and producer declares her fearlessness: “Baby don’t worry about me, I don’t worry about you.” Here, on “Ordinary Talk,” Rose meditates on the heaviness of ordinary moments, the constellation of tears and chores and self-doubt and small talk that comprise being a person, accompanied by her most cinematic, pulsing arrangements to date.
It’s an apt introduction to The Caretaker, an album that negotiates the space between working alone and with others, between isolation and connection. The result is her boldest work yet. Even the album cover seems to declare a statement of intent in high resolution, a deliberate move from the obscured, muted mystery of her previous work: the artist’s sharp image radiates before a brilliant blue storm, staring you right in the eye.
Over the course of eleven songs, Rose creates the lush world of a humid summer night, dreaming of and reaching for a season in which she is her “best self.” Referring to the album’s title, she says, “I kind of created a character. She’s someone who has been entrusted with taking care of this estate, taking care of the land, and she’s not doing a very good job. The weeds are growing everywhere, and she’s not taking care of herself.” For Rose, the character of The Caretaker serves as a warning of who she could become if she’s not more vigilant, and the resulting album sees her grappling with her desire for independence and the knotty reality that we need each other.
The Caretaker follows critically acclaimed album Lavender, named for the lavender that once grew in her grandmother’s garden. And on her most recent collection, Rose’s family history and intergenerational stories continue to seep their way into the songs. “There’s a family legacy of losing and seeking homes, a theme that has followed me,” she reflects, pointing to her mother’s journey as an Indian refugee from Uganda, and her grandmother’s displacement from Lahore after the partition of India. Rose herself was raised surrounded by the Berkshire mountains in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and today she finds inspiration in the shock of seasons of the Hudson Valley where she currently resides.