Gentle harmonies and soaring fiddle notes may strike a nostalgic chord for those who grew up on folk icons like Peter, Paul and Mary or Joan Baez. In Ithaca-based Richie + Rosie‘s sophomore album, Nowhere in Time, that folk flame continues to burn.
Though the two grew up in different places and at different times, their sugary Americana sound transcends miles and decades.
Singer and banjo player, Richie Stearns and singer and fiddle-player Rosie Newton are no rookies in the folk scene. Stearns has toured with Bela Fleck, Pete Seeger, David Byrne, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Joan Baez. His family also founded the GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance, of which he is now the president. By high school, Newton was touring with folk band, The Mammals, and attended Ithaca College to study classical viola.
The 14-track album stays true to its name, proving as nostalgic as it is fresh. The album begins with the title track, “Nowhere in Time.” The lyrics are introspective as Stearns grapples with the experience of aging and wrapping his head around the passage of time. “Where do we come from/ And where do we go?” Stearns asks. The song begins with the earthy timbres of the banjo and fiddle. During the chorus, Newton’s velvety voice enters, harmonizing with Stearns’.
The second track, a rendition of the traditional tune, “Glory in the Meeting House,” is a robust fiddle and banjo jam, reminiscent of the foot-stomping vibrance of Celtic folk songs.
“Cold Mountain,” the fifth piece on the album is a cover of a traditional folk song the duo colors with down-home vocal harmonies floating over a tapestry woven by the intertwining notes of the fiddle and banjo.
The end of the album heads in a softer, more sentimental direction, with Newton’s vocals taking the lead on “I’ll be Here in the Morning,” and the lively twang of the banjo being replaced with intricate finger-picking on acoustic guitar.
The album ends with a gentle, bittersweet waltz, “Surrender.” The very last notes on “Nowhere in Time” are taken from a heartwarming sample of a child singing the first track, “Nowhere in Time.”
With originals steeped deeply in Celtic and Americana folk, Richie + Rosie’s compositions are indistinguishable from the traditional songs they cover. Nowhere in Time feels like home, even to those who have never known the simplicity and intimacy of small-town rural life.