Rosie Tucker’s sophomore album Never Not Never Not Never Not is a sweet, sharp dream. There’s odes to the lows of life, but by the end of the album, we’re left on a happy high.
From the first track, it’s clear that Tucker is a storyteller. On “Gay Bar,” they sing of “cowboys dipped in glitter,” and I can almost see the sparkles in that line. It’s an ode to a memory, ending with the question, “Baby isn’t this the afterlife/ Singing karaoke in a dive?”
Throughout the album, Rosie Tucker writes clever lines that team up just to punch you in the gut. Over and over, they dole out these punches, until the very end of the song. And I love it. Like in “Habit,” where they open with, “I wanna tell you I’m sorry/ But what’s a couple words?/ Drops in the Pacific between us.” “Habit” features a short spoken-word section as well: “I woke up bereft with no poetry left,” says Tucker. Lyrics that might sound dark or lonely in someone else’s mouth remain bright.
One of the more vulnerable tracks on this record is “Lauren.” The first time I listened, I thought this song was about creating music or maybe the struggles of creating in general. But then I listened again, and realized that, more than that, it’s also about friendship. “Lauren” expresses a need for a friend and for their kinship.
Then there’s my personal favorite: “Shadow of a Doubt.” It carries a big, swaying, rock n’ roll sound. There’s specificity and immediacy of details throughout (“Back from a month spent spelunking in the Redwoods"). There’s also anger on this track, as Tucker sings about felling trees and trying to set a canopy bird free. Tucker has stated that Never Not Never Not Never Not is in conversation with forgotten, queer, or otherwise blacklisted songwriters like Buffy St. Marie or Norma Tanega, and I read “Shadow of a Doubt” as directly speaking about the art of these women. “A tree falls/I hear nothing but her song,” Tucker sings. “It is her song I rise to.” Remember their songs, Tucker says.
Never Not Never Not Never Not feels like a natural progression from Rosie Tucker’s debut, Lowlight. They kept the charisma and the power of their songwriting while playing with fuller arrangements and production. It’s bolder and it’s beautiful.