Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The place in my mind where the Rosewood Thieves linger is one that's been concocted to support old, green and brown-colored liquor bottles with corks stopping the tops and labels that just read XXX across their rounded bodies. It's a spot that features nary a one person who looks as if they're from around here, just men in cowboy boots, rotten facial hats, hats and leather vests - women in tainted and hole-riddled petticoats, wearing their curls tight and showing off legs when they need to buy groceries. This place has an ancient piano in the center of the room, with bullet ticks blemishing its wooden shell and whomever's seated at the bench knows to either duck or pick up the tempo when a stool-busting fight breaks out in the joint. It's of some version of the Old West, but one involving all of the contemporary problems of modern music - with untruthful men and women taking their clothes off together and then being forced into an entirely different and difficult to grasp scenario of what's to happen next. It's a world that involves these feelings of desperation, cities on fire - or their horizons at least and people fighting it out to last from one tough, lonesome day to the next. These are the timeless problems that will never be conquered and Rosewood Thieves lead singer Erick Jordan makes it sound as if he's getting closer to some kind of justification, to some kind of resolve that will allow him to swing those legs over the side of the bed and down onto the floor on a morning, any morning after. A typical Rosewood Thieves song involves so much hazy atmosphere and harmonies seemingly drifting in from different climates and moving through as if they were what we've been paying for all along to heat our homes. Jordan has a worn in voice that sounds as if it's always going on two hours of sleep, or just braving out another sleepless one, throwing down coffee or the hair of a dog to keep those legs and eyes moving. The songs have a sweet, sun-ripened feel to them that is neither dawn nor dusk exclusively, just this mixture of both, which creates a blend of rich pumpkin oranges and the scented colors of dead leaves in colder times. He sings, "I've been alone for all these years," and routinely comments about the luster of California, the trip of it, laying into themes of abandonment and starting clean, just to get to a place where love can finally be had. It's that romantic vision - and everything is calm and romantic, like a meaningful sideways glance or a first peck on the lips - that love will be waiting for you when this new place is arrived at. Anything's better than feeling alone, even if that love that's there greeting is only half of what you wanted, it counts as something that will hold you. It seems to be all that's really hoped for in Jordan's dusty and galloping songs of unrequited emotions and getting the most out of the little that's around. We should all be so lucky, even if it's not really winning anything.