As a native resident of Upstate New York, I often tend to find that the pocket of the local music scene is…. residing a bit to the south of what one might ordinarily consider “sparse”. Of course between rolling green fields, looooong stretches of barren highway, and the requisite placement of cows, one often finds the word sparse to be an adjective that’s rather difficult NOT to use here. Yet despite this timeless truth, I’m always searching for the next local group that might happen to catch my ear.
Enter my introduction to Roses & Revolutions. Or my “stumbling into” rather, as I first encountered the music of duo Alyson Coco and Matt Merritt unintentionally while attending a Head and The Heart show during Rochester’s “Party In The Park” series. From the moment I first heard Alyson’s voice achingly croon across the expanse of that outdoor venue to last week’s opening set for The Lone Bellow at Geneva NY’s Smith Opera House, I’ve come away entranced each and every time.
And yes, while June 7th at the Smith was a headlining night for one of Brooklyn’s finest new bands, the twosome from our own aforementioned Rochester weren’t about to be left out of the equation. The pair mesmerized the intimate crowd with a stripped-down set of songs that showcased their deeply talented pop/singer-songwriter blend, led by Coco’s rich vocals and Merritt’s spaciously appealing guitar. Hauntingly electric at times(but mostly acoustic), the two danced fluidly between originals from their two EP’s(2012’s “Earth And Everything” and 2014’s self-titled followup) in their forty minute performance, along with a dash of reinvented covers that included Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”.
And while originals like “Moving On” and “When A Heart Gives Out” simultaneously enthralled and captivated, my mind couldn’t help but return to that reinvention of “The Scientist” simply because it was so brilliantly reinterpreted for a new voice. While I’m sure most have consciously uncoupled from Chris Martin and that song by now following it’s breakout smash in 2002, Roses & Revolutions has taken a long-cliche statement and created it into a fact. Simply put, they’ve made the song their own(though the fact they haven’t recorded it yet is a travesty).
So while the bulk of their set at the Smith Opera House was kept at a musical pace that was largely quiet and contemplative that night, the mood of the two Roses in sync together was a mellowing yet uplifting fit for the spell of the evening. Like a soft and inviting embrace, their talent is yet another reminder that there is great promise out there to be heard in the music world. Sometimes, you just have to wind up stumbling into it.