The Netherlands-based Rosemary & Garlic has seen the worldwide release of their much-anticipated self-titled debut album on January 12, 2018. In just a few years, the Dutch duo – Anne van den Hoogen (vocals) & Dolf Smolenaers (keys) – managed to enchant an ever-growing audience with their music, which is rooted in the folk and singer-songwriter tradition, but at the same time exceeds all categories. First single “I’m Here” was immediately added to key Spotify playlists, reaching a million-plus streams shortly after its release.
After the wintry The Kingfisher EP (2015), the album effectively captures the emotions of all four seasons. Nature is a major theme in the album’s sound and lyrics. During her study of literary history, Anne fell in love with Romanticism – an 18th century artistic, literary, and intellectual movement, in which nature was used as a metaphor for emotions and main characters sought authenticity.
The cover artwork was created by American artist Gregory Euclide, who also designed some of Bon Iver’s album covers. His style is characterized by a surreal combination of visual arts and paintings. His work is reminiscent of an 18th century diorama. The mood of the music on the album is reflected perfectly by the fairy-tale-like image of the water surrounded by vegetation, in which the grimness of the city is reflected.
In line with the artwork, Rosemary & Garlic’s songs are not part of a specific genre, adding layers of paint from an electronic and vintage palette, whether it’s a subtle change of chords (a la Nick Drake), or distancing sounds and rhythms or experiments with echoing electric guitars (like Sufjan Stevens). But always done with a melancholic heart, in which some may recognize the old Sandy Denny.
The duo discovered a common love for this kind of music and its artists when they met during a singer-songwriter competition. At first Anne joined Dolfs’ band as a background singer. “After a while I realized it would make more sense to switch roles and put Anne’s vocals and lyrics upfront, with me taking care of the music. Rosemary & Garlic was born out of that ambition,” remembers Dolf.
One year later, they released The Kingfisher EP. The London based Folk Radio was the first to take notice, “Once you’ve crossed paths with this bird, you keep it very close to your heart.” Folk icon Laura Marling added Rosemary & Garlic to her favorite playlist and Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins / Bella Union) played the band on Amazing Radio (“It’s absolutely beautiful”). In the meantime, the band sold out all its EPs and became the best-selling folk act on Bandcamp. The duo toured extensively in Holland and abroad.
The statistics are impressive. The song “Old Now” has been streamed 10 million+ times and with 750,000 unique listeners a month, Rosemary & Garlic can be regarded as one of Holland’s most popular bands. The ever-growing international recognition resulted in a label deal with Nettwerk Music Group that will release the album worldwide. On tour, Rosemary & Garlic will be joined by Dionne Nijsten (cello) and Tim Vermulst (drums, Moog).
With its tranquil vocals and the layered framework of Dolf’s piano and subtle electronics, the album sets the duo for a stellar debut and a rising future.