Updated: Jun 28, 2020
equality factor: a bunch of great women in music in charge behind the scenes
producer: David Tolomei, Nandi Rose Plunkett
based in: Hudson Valley, New York
label: ANTI- Records / Epitaph
Two years passed since the release "Lavender", Nandi Rose Plunkett's third album as Half Waif. The album is equally powerful in its emotional value, as it is musically impactful. Today, she returns with her new work, "The Caretaker", an album in which the feminine aspects of her artistic maturity take the lead.
Nandi Rose Plunkett's background could not be more diverse. Her grandmother was displaced from Lahore after the partition of India. Her mother experienced a journey as an Indian refugee from Uganda. 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.
"You put sad songs to make you feel better", said the singer Gustavo Cerati, and in many cases, he is right about that. It is just as true that writing about moments, places or situations that we at some point associated with sadness is an effort of overcoming that bubble of anguish to face reality, and turning that sadness in healing. It is this emotional overcoming and bittersweetness that characterizes "In August", the third and last single that Half Waif released a few days ago, prior to releasing the album. It is a song that addresses the development and different stages of conflict, culminating at the end of a friendship. A song where the mature view on and reflection of the situation emphasizes Nandi's status a strong woman, without grudges; a woman who understands - understands but also feels.
"Recognizing your own ordinariness can be depressing, or it can be a relief."
From a heartbreaking request for love in her song "Slit" (2018) to the maturity and courage of "Ordinary Talk", The Caretaker represents the evolution of Half Waif, and its final result: a strong, grown up woman. On "Ordinary Talk", the artist reflects on the heaviness of ordinary moments, the impact of tears and self-doubt."Recognizing your own ordinariness can be depressing, or it can be a relief. In 'Ordinary Talk', I wanted to honour and celebrate my ordinariness as an incredible tool for making me feel less alone" she said.
If you take a close look at the cover art above - what is it that do you see? We at music is her passion see a confident, grown-into-herself woman with an empowered look, without fear, a daring gaze, thriving to move forward, all the while being aware of the obstacles in her way. The album cover itself is a deliberate move from the obscured, muted mystery of her previous work "Lavender". The artwork of "The Caretaker" portrays a strong woman in music who on this record displays a very honest and vulnerable side of her self. Additionally, she highlights the rose, the rose with which Nandi Rose adorns herself in several ways. The rose is a very complex symbol, allowing for a wider scope of interpretation. It stands for both heavenly perfection and earthly passion. This multifaceted flower symbolizes time and eternity, life and death. The rose as a tattoo, as worn by Half Waif, is today seen as a symbol of love and passion. In the past, it was often associated with a life full of thorns. Many of the interpretations of the rose symbol, complex is they are, are also reflected on the album.
The album invites us into a dark and beautiful world, where we can let our soul dangle, especially in times like these. The darkness does this album a lot of good because it is one thing above all: sincere. Because sometimes we need exactly this dose of honesty that brings us back down to earth, at the end of the day assuring us that our situation, no matter how hopeless it might seem sometimes, is not.
"Be the one you wanna be. See how you want to be seen."
"My best self" is a song that not only has deeply stirring sound elements, but also voices a confrontational imperative, encouraging one to becoming the best version of oneself. On this song, Nandi Rose reminds us in a very magical way that the change we want to see should first be generated by ourselves. The way we want to be treated ourselves, we should also meet others with. Lyrically, the whole album revolves around the space between being at yourself and cooperating with others, between connection and isolation. This song is a perfect example of that overall theme.
Musically, the album, as well as her previous works, consists of complex beats and elaborate instrumentation, which give the work a certain grandness and make it even easier for us to dive into the dark lyrical worlds. An outstanding aspect to 'The Caretaker' is the fact that Nandi Rose Plunkett has written and arranged all tracks, and can also be found among the producer credits, alongside David Tolomel. Heba Kadry taking care of the mastering adds another masterful female to the album's list of credits. The Egypt-born sound engineer who moved to New York in 2007, has mastered the releases of some of the most recognized artists in indie rock and pop, including The Mars Volta, Lightning Bolt and Beach House. Furthermore, Heba Kadry was personally selected by Björk to mix her recently published avant-garde work 'Utopia'.
After diving deep into the sphere of "The Caretaker", the only remaining mystery is its ominous title."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 Nandi Rose herself, "The Caretaker" is a reminder to take care of herself and always be aware of what she does not want to become. Next to that, another really important aspect to"The Caretaker" is the expressed hunger for independence and self-expression. Not only do we vibe with the deep dark soundscapes of this album, we also admire Half Waif for her maturity - both as a woman and a musician.