Rosalie Cunningham – Two Piece Puzzle


After six years, two EPs and two albums with psychedelic rockers Purson and following their farewell single ‘Chocolate Money’, Rosalie Cunningham decided it was time to plough her own furrow in the psych rock world. Releasing her self-titled debut in 2019 via Esoteric/Cherry Red Records. The Rosalie Cunningham album saw her taking the retro sound of Purson and dragging it into the 21st century kicking and screaming with her lush acid tinged take on retro song smithery. This journey continues on her second solo release Two Piece Puzzle.

On her first solo album Cunningham threw every thing but the kitchen sink at its creation, building on her early demos to create the fully crafted songs which were then recorded across three different studios before then deciding to pull things back to a more organic/back to basics approach which she felt more comfortable with, eventually finding the correct feel for the eight 60/70s influenced tracks which made up that opening collection. For Two Piece Puzzle the Cunningham/Wilson (Rosco Wilson – guitars/vocals/drums and Rosalie’s partner in life and music) duo were forced into the solitude of lockdown when Covid-19 interrupted the momentum built following the first release. With tour dates postponed/cancelled and studio doors forced to close the pair bunkered down and began to jam around ideas before building on those embryonic early takes and overdubbing to produce the ten songs which the band would complete once the world re-opened. The couple obviously do most of the heavy lifting on Two Piece Puzzle but are joined by a completely new group of musicians compared to the first album with Antoine Piane and Pat Kenneally joining Wilson on drums, Ric Sanders on violin, David Woodcock on piano/organ and Darren Jones supplying bouzouki/mandolin to add to their compositions.

Leading in with the only instrumental ‘Start With the Corners’ you immediately get an early Deep Purple vibe. What strikes you most is the humour in this highly jaunty opener a trait which is repeated throughout the album’s track list. Rosalie’s ever theatrical vocals carry the story of ‘Donovan Ellington’ with a Tull like heavy guitar and violin riffs and a definite nod towards ‘Greensleeves’. ‘Donny Pt. 2’ continues to trace the tale of Donovan by following his dreams of a better life into a more acoustic but still very humorous world reminiscent of The Kinks Davies brothers at their melodious peak, full on vaudevillian swagger. A Gabrielesque spoken word intro (Hum de dum, de dum) leads into the short ‘The War’ showing off Cunningham’s full vocal talents to the max before Rosco joins the fray for the lengthier (7:24) centrepiece of ‘Duet’ with its Lennon/McCartney harmonies and piano and plucked acoustic interplay. ‘Tristitia Amnesia’ (another 7 minute plus track) has a far more Indian vibe drawing on the sound of the sitar and percussion of the east. ‘Scared of the Dark’ piles in before settling down only for the drums to pound right back in again with a feel which will be much more familiar to fans of her earlier projects within its roller-coaster ride. Another short interlude for ‘God Is a Verb’ with just doubled vocals and acoustic guitar before the ‘Suck Push Bang Blow’ intro leads into something a whole lot more vocally and musically dramatic with a rustic Celtic lilt. The album proper closes with another lengthy track in the shape of the gentle piano led ‘The Liner Notes’. Two bonus tracks are added to the basic 45-minute album, the Doors lite ‘Number 149’ and the jangly guitar of the poppy performance that is ‘Fossil Song’. Every track here offers you not one but at least two takes on the multiple worlds of Rosalie Cunningham as each snapshot twists and turns both musically and lyrically before its conclusion. Gone is the all-out psychedelia of Purson and in its place Two Piece Puzzle delivers a greater maturity and expanded character beyond the initial solo album showing Rosalie’s diversity and true personality and what a personality. Sure, this totally drips with influences but all the pieces fit (even if there are only two).

Already taking to the road following the easing of restrictions the Rosalie Cunningham BAND will be heading out again for further live action across the UK and beyond for a good slice of 2022. Rosalie Cunningham the album was a good starting point but Two Piece Puzzle supplies a group of songs which will place the band in good stead for the road that lays ahead. A Two Piece Puzzle would be very easy to complete as is this album but take your time and ‘Start With The Corners’.

Track List:

1. Start With the Corners
2. Donovan Ellington
3. Donny Pt. 2
4. The War
5. Duet
6. Tristitia Amnesia
7. Scared of the Dark
8. God Is a Verb
9. Suck Push Bang Blow
10. The Liner Notes
11. Number 149 (Bonus Track)
12. Fossil Song (Bonus Track)