Hello, Blue Roses

The Portrait Is Finished and I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty…

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished Jan 28, 2008

Sydney Vermont and partner (in the romantic sense) Dan Bejar’s decision to release The Portrait Is Finished And I Have Failed To Capture Your Beauty on Chicago’s Locust Records, rather than Bejar’s long-time label Merge, seems suspect only on paper. Vocalist and flautist Vermont’s proclivity for moody, sprawling folk is more indebted to the music of Espers or Josephine Foster than anything Bejar has been linked to. The back-story of Hello, Blue Roses, paired with the album art, lyrical content and overall mood of their debut, can lead listeners to draw the conclusion that The Portrait Is Finished is indeed an ode to love. Vermont’s complex melodies soar and circle like a morning bird, most notably on songs like "Hello Blue Roses,” "Heron Song” and "Sunny Skies,” while Bejar’s instrumentation and the JC/DC production keep the songs sounding extraordinarily undemanding, allowing Vermont to deliver a set that is unconcealed but exploratory. The vocalist as songbird association may sound cliché but The Portrait Is Finished doesn’t ask for complex explanations. It can work as a documentation of the life of two lovers and deserves to be remembered as a highlight in the musicians’ careers, not a side note.

I’ve been hearing about the Hello, Blue Roses album for around two years. So it took you two years to write this album?
Sydney Vermont: Yeah, we were both doing a lot of other things. We weren’t even sure that we were going to do an album when we started. A friend asked us to play a show and I think we had six songs or something and it kind of remained at six songs for a long time. When we went to Spain last year, we had a lot of time to just work on stuff and that’s when we finished writing and started demoing.

There seems to be a motif going on with the content, lyrics and artwork, even the name of the band. The theme of the album could be construed as love.
Dan Bejar: Did you tell Sydney that?

Bejar: I think she would really like that.

Was this intentional?
Bejar: No, other people have mentioned that the album has a joyous vibe, [that it’s] upbeat and sunshiny. But I took it as they were saying that aesthetically. I see darker things in the songs. But sound-wise, it’s probably not a feel-good record but more inspirational.

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