Much has transpired over the last decade for Prince Edward Island native Rose Cousins. In addition to the release of no fewer than six recorded efforts since 2002, Rose’s steadily building career led to a Juno Award win for Roots & Traditional Solo Album of the Year for her 2012 record We Have Made A Spark, her third full-length effort.
Of course the Juno Award win was merely the Canadian music industry calling out what we here in Atlantic Canada have known for years: Rose is an absolute musical treasure, adored by audiences and her peers alike. This has been affirmed by her six East Coast Music Awards, a pair of Nova Scotia Music Awards, high profile song placements in television shows like Grey’s Anatomy as well as guest appearances on records by Joel Plaskett, David Myles and Thom Swift.
Arguably one of the strongest records of her career, there is a real sense of community that dominates We Have Made A Spark. That communal feeling stems not from the Atlantic Canadian music scene but rather a host of talented musicians and collaborators from the Boston area.
It was a musical fascination and curiosity with the region that led Rose to first perform in the area more than a decade ago.
“I was always looking at album liner notes, reading to see who sings on whose albums,” Rose says from a Boston-area tour stop last week. “There ended up being a couple of artists that pointed me in this specific direction. There is a venue in the area, Club Passim, that is renowned as being a legendary folk club where many different artists got their start.
“I went to the Boston area on a work trip and ended up playing a couple of songs at an open mic night. About nine months later, I got an email from Club Passim’s manager asking me to take part in a festival in September 2003. That really was the beginning of me finding my Boston family. I feel like they have done so much to help bring me out of my musical shell that it only made sense that I would make We Have Made A Spark here. When we make music together, the result is something that is really special.”
Despite the obvious difference in size and population between Boston and Atlantic Canada, Rose says that her latest album has an intimate feel that some might feel would be unattainable in a big city.
“I think that because Atlantic Canadians are so close knit, we all have this small community mindset that we take into the world,” she says. “In addition to a great history of folk music, what I found at Club Passim was very much a small community that involved people from all corners of the world. I don’t know if I would have found such a spirit in a comparably sized city as Boston.
“I was just so excited to have gotten virtually all of the people I wanted to contribute to this record all in one room together. It was exciting to see people up for it and into it. I wasn’t thinking about the legs that the record could have because of those playing on it. Obviously, I couldn’t have predicted all of the things that would happen around the record but I do feel affirmed that it was the right place to make the album.”
Among the “things” that have happened for Rose in the almost two years since the release of We Have Made A Spark was a recent tour of Australia. Escaping the harsh introduction to winter that Atlantic Canada experienced in December, Rose spent seven weeks touring the land Down Under.
In addition to having the opportunity to perform and spend Christmas Day on the Great Barrier Reef, Rose also had numerous opportunities to be a “tourist,” something not always possible given a musician’s typically busy schedule while on tour.
“To have the opportunity to be in a brand new place with trees, birds, flowers and sounds that were all new to me was just so wonderful. And because I was there for such a long time, it gave me the opportunity to move through different areas and do some touristy kind of stuff. I spent a lot of time in a lot of small towns and so I would do my best to find the tourist ‘thing’ that every small town has.”
After the past couple of years that Rose has been fortunate enough to experience, it would be completely natural to expect her to hit the recording studio as soon as she could to try to keep her career momentum moving forward.
But Rose acknowledges that taking a breather to reflect on the past two years and decide how to move forward is equally if not more important to her at this point.
“I am only in the thinking stages of the next record,” she says. “It has been an absolute great ride with this record but my focus, once this quick run of shows wraps up, is to just take some time off and percolate on all that has happened. It is important for me to have the opportunity to recharge before moving forward with my music.
“In terms of concepts though, I have a lot of ideas floating around which I find encouraging. I would much rather take the time to make my next record everything it could be rather than rushing into something.”
What: Rose Cousins
with special guest Jennah Barry
When: Sunday, Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Riverview Arts Centre, 400 Whitepine Rd., Riverview
Tickets: $10 for students, $20 for adults. Advance tickets can be purchased at Jean Coutu (438 Coverdale Rd., Riverview), Frank’s Music (245 Carson Dr., Moncton) and Sobeys (1160 Findlay Blvd., Riverview)