Rosalind Leyden might perform under the name Rozi Plain, but her music proves that she is anything but. The English singer-songwriter released her sixth album Prize on January 13, 2023, under Memphis Industries, the album is totally on brand for Plain as it’s comprised of ten tracks only and tops out at around forty minutes. As Plain throws her hat into the air on the album’s cover, she visually describes the themes of Prize: Care-free energies, warmth, and an attitude of not taking things too seriously. Throughout her career, the indie-folk artist has played with This Is the Kit, performed at UK festivals, and toured with stars like Devendra Banhart, but her soft, whimsical voice, and consistent glowing beats, have never been more apparent than on Prize.
The opening track, “Agreeing For Two,” doesn’t waste time in introducing Plain’s classic acoustic guitar paired with a steady, consistent beat that rings throughout the song. Her light, wispy voice sings through immediately, the steady but high-pitched sound comparable to American folk trio Mountain Man. Accompanied on the track is English jazz musician Alabaster DePlume, DePlume echoing after Plain’s words in an ethereal manner.
In the second song, despite the very “Complicated” title, the song itself is quite simple. While Plain sings “Is there something that you see coming?/ Leaving it to how you see/ Things are going to be/ Do you believe it yourself?” it’s hard not to miss the ambiguity of her words. With no clarification on what the “something,” “things,” or “it” is, she has allowed for her listeners to come to their own conclusions with the piece, choosing to think of it in ways that best suit them rather than her.
Reminiscent of leading British folk artists like Sandy Denny, Plain incorporates those iconic electric notes of the genre on tracks like “Help,” “Prove Your Good,” and “Painted The Room.” In the first one, she continues her theme of obscurity, using “it” to describe emotions and sentiments. For “Prove Your Good,” Plain once again changes the meaning of her words through the song titles she chooses: by calling for someone to prove your good rather than prove you’re good she acknowledges the ways people tend to justify their bad actions in spite of knowing better. The sixth song, “Painted The Room,” feels equipped for a relaxed, fuzzy evening, the almost ominous parts of the track coming across as comfortable rather than foreboding.
“Standing Up,” the ninth song on Prize, doesn’t overly clarify it’s very simple message: it’s always possible to be renewed. As Plain affirms that she is “standing up in the full blue of newness” she makes easy for listeners to believe they can do the same. The final track, “Blink,” is perhaps the most whimsical one on the album; Plain’s sharp voice is cut through by brass instrument soundscapes and the final seconds of the song are airy, making you feel like you are floating.
Rozi Plain has already asserted herself as a lead figure in a new era of British folk music, one that will continue to make heartfelt music, not taking itself too seriously, and never limiting itself to any one idea.