Sweet Radish has been bringing their unique blend of Folk, Country and Bluegrass to Southern Colorado and the surrounding areas for the better part of a decade. In that time the group has released three albums; “Imagination” (2011), “The Thickwood Bramble” (2013), and their brand new collection “The Garden & Life” (2020).
The acoustic troupe’s sound is born of the great American Folk music tradition, and it grows from the Colorado soil. Led by lead vocalist and lyricist Morgan Velasquez and music composer Abe Rosenberg, Sweet Radish examines the human condition and the value of living a simple life in a complicated world. Their new album explores personal growth and self awareness, with the “garden” as a metaphor of both the labor and the reward of living an examined life.
The Garden & Life is a look into the way we see the world. Like a good garden, life has many changes and fluctuations. Diverse seasons, death and rebirth, love, loss and growth are all regular experiences for us and are the major themes in this album.Sweet Radish
The four noble truths of Buddhism refer to the suffering inherent to human existence. I won’t pretend to be an expert, but in my layman’s understanding, the point of enlightenment is to release ourselves from the emotions which cause this suffering. The enlightened shed the “self” entirely to become one with existence. “The Garden & Life” chronicles a similar journey. The fourteen songs on this record find Velasquez seeking a connection to the earth and humanity, and a disconnect from the suffering.
The garden metaphor takes center stage on tracks like “Dig,” “Plant Seeds,” “The Garden Grew” and “Into the Earth.” The songs revel in the beauty and simplicity of love and togetherness. The latter is an epic 8:11 poem that mixes Gospel, Blues and theatrical performance art to dive deeper into the complexity of this simplicity. Being human is hard. Many of the songs reflect the difficulty of the struggle to be well (“Be Well,” “Shame,” “Gentle Voice”).
Stylistically, Sweet Radish have carved a comfortable niche for themselves somewhere between the hippie Bluegrass of The Grateful Dead and Hot Tuna, and the traditional Country Folk of artists like John Prine and Emmylou Harris. Morgan’s vocals move smoothly from Dolly Parton-esque soulful vibrato on tracks like “Rabbits Crooning” to a Janis Joplin Blues (“Everyone Included”).
On more than one occasion she breaks into a sort-of beatnik spoken-word poetry rap, on songs like “Breathe” and “Colors.” This is a group unafraid to experiment and push the boundaries of their otherwise simple musical ensemble. Morgan’s voice and Abe’s guitar are at the heart of these songs. They are occasionally accompanied by economically applied banjo, electric guitar and bass.
“The Garden & Life” by Sweet Radish is a beautiful record from a small crew of talented and thoughtful musicians. This is “get high on Sunday morning, head down to the coffee shop and discuss philosophy” music. Or better yet, this is music for gardening, both literally and metaphorically. You can hear “Be Well” on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. Follow the links below to connect with Sweet Radish.