Listen to Josie Rose: Don’t believe the harp

The term Harp recital isn’t likely to get many students jumping around in excitement, butif you throw the name Josie Rose into the mix it’s a different story.

The term Harp recital isn’t likely to get many students jumping around in excitement, butif you throw the name Josie Rose into the mix it’s a different story. The 18 year old harpist from Stornoway wowed the audience at the launch of her brand new EP at Edinburgh’s suave voodoo rooms last week.

The previously noisy crowd was stunned into complete silence as Josie Rose played the first few sharp chords on her harp.

Blurring the differences

From those first few notes on the teenager had the audience captivated as she played a spell-binding and almost mystical set.

The EP which features all original songs received roaring applause from the audience and it looks set to get the same reaction from the rest of Scotland.

“I started recording it in January and I recorded it back home at this little studio called wee studio,” Rose said. “I wrote all of the songs I’ve always been into writing stories since I was about 12 but I’ve only been performing since last year because I used to be really nervous.”

The EP contains a broad range of songs from upbeat pop songs to haunting ballads.

Her songs have a storytelling quality that draws you in so you have to listen until the end. Josie’s music is often a nod to the traditional with her islander accent and the Gaelic twang in her voice, yet it always feels modern.

She’s a paradox of the old and the new, bringing together a fantastic and contemporary blend of sounds. Her unique style is the result of years of experimenting, as well as taking inspiration from artists such as Eva Cassidy and The Beatles.

“I’ve kind always been drawn to it. I started singing Gaelic songs when I was in primary one,” Rose said. “I’ve always sung as much as I can and I went to a music school for 5th and 6th year where I got to try out loads of different types like jazz and classical so I’ve tried a lot of different types and I’ve settled now.”

Supporting Josie on the night was musician Pete Nicholson. Pete, who has been in the business for years, was full of praise for Josie’s new EP.

“I absolutely love it,” Nicholson said. “Josie she’s got an incredible voice and she’s got that sort of Celtic warble that I love and obviously she’s an amazing musician as well within that so it’s really nice to come out and support her.”

No interest in ‘big time’ success

Coming from a musical family Josie spent the early part of her life living in Manchester as her dad was in the acclaimed Halle orchestra. It was through watching her dad and the other musicians that Josie’s curiosity in the harp was sparked, however it was to be an instrument she would have to work hard to get.

“I would go and watch his orchestra and I always wanted to play the harp but I was like 3 and they’re around 20 grand,” Rose said. “Later we went up to the isle of Lewis where Stornoway is and there was all these little harps so I rented one for 5 years…It’s taken me until I’m 18 to be able to buy one properly.”

The launch was also very much a family affair. The audience gasped in excitement when Josie’s two cousins dramatically stood up in the front row mid song  joining her on the saxophone adding a brass section to her self-proclaimed catchiest song ‘Man on a mission.’

“It’s a song I wrote when I had just turned 18 and I started going out to clubs and it’s about how boys act in clubs,” Rose said. “It’s different from the others that are all sort of short stories.”

With Josie’s enchanting voice, her harp, and her long blonde hair one would easily be lead to believe that she was a princess straight out of a Disney movie, not Josie. She is a seasoned pro who has honed her skills and is not even slightly interested in writing songs about Prince Charming. The young singer has set herself apart from the crowd in the last number of years in many ways, both through her content and her instrument of choice.

“I don’t tend to write about relationships and stuff,” Rose said. “I think I’ve got one relationship song and I’ve got about 30 originals. I think it’s the content as well as the harp.”

Unbelievably modest considering her wealth of talent Josie isn’t interest in making it ‘big time.’ Her plans for the future are much more short term, her upcoming gig in Aberdeen, the sales of Typewriter on iTunes and travelling.

“I’d like to be able to tour outside Scotland,” Rose said. “At least I’m not really bothered about the whole being big time, I just want to be able to travel.”

You can learn more about Josie’s music here. Have your say on her music in the comments section below.