by Meaghan Paulosky
To put the words ‘roses’ and ‘revolutions’ together would suppose that they are somehow related- two words that respectively describe fragility and disorder can come together to formulate a greater, third meaning. A bold proposition, Alyssa Coco and Matt Merritt dare to do just that.
Coco and Merritt, the two halves of Roses & Revolutions, did not start out as a pair of intrepid singer-songwriters. In fact, they were very far from a pair of anything. Despite having grown up in unknowing proximity in upstate New York, Coco and Merritt each pursued music very differently, and separately.
A pop artist from Season 7 of American Idol, Coco boasts a “natural” vocal talent and an “ear for music.” According to her counterpart, “She’s able to just pick up an instrument and know how to play. I have to practice.”
Though not an American Idol hopeful, Merritt ‘practiced’ Jazz Guitar at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, later attending SUNY Purchase for Jazz Guitar Performance. As he cites, “[Our] paths were different, but they ended up taking us to the same place.”
Fate had just a little help. After Coco finished auditioning in Hollywood, she returned home to New York. Around that same time, Merritt’s band was looking for a singer. He had come across her “natural” talent on Idol and decided to send a personal invitation through, of all things, Myspace. Coco joined the band and their musical kinship began.
For roughly the next three years, she and Merritt shared favorite artists with one another using mix CDs. It became clear they shared a passion for music under the singer-songwriter genre so in 2012 they decided to make another. This time, though, the CD was for sale.
Earth and Everything was Roses & Revolutions first EP and the catalyst for Coco and Merritt’s success as an emerging duo. Featuring Coco’s gracefully powerful vocals, Merritt’s echoing guitar, and a few surprising instrumentals, i.e. a residual saxophone from Merritt’s jazz training, tracks such as “Home” and “Fall Away” prove that transitioning into a duo act was a service to us all.
Despite being their first attempt, having already worked together appear to have had advantages. Challenges traditionally found in the collaborative writing process were overcome. As Coco explains, “[The writing process] is really a 50/50 collaboration. Sometimes I write, sometimes he does – it depends on what we’re trying to convey.” Whatever the method may be, it works.
Others agreed and the musical skill produced on Earth and Everything was regularly called upon. Artists including The Head and the Heart, Wynnona Judd, and Joan Osborne welcomed Roses & Revolutions for support during live performances, preparing them for the many shows to come.
During the winter months, they can be found touring close to home, opting to conserve energy, and warmth, for summers on the road. It is during these shows that they quickly transform from talented support to headliner act. Currently, they are making their way through New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, slowly emerging from hibernation. The close of May even has Roses & Revolutions journeying as far as Los Angeles to give California a dose of upstate New York.
Having the talent that they each do, moving from background to center stage and again from state-to-state is no hindrance. As both Coco and Merritt share, evolution and change is natural for them. If anything, it drives them.
In the past it compelled them to break out as a duo and now it is the muse for the recently released self-titled second EP. Self-described as being more “folk, when compared with the first [EP],” Roses & Revolutions showcases even more of their individual and collective range(s) as artists.
“Take Me With You” and “Boomerang” with a notably strong percussion influence, as well as the definitive sound of the strings in “Down,” demonstrate that the pair, once inspired by the likes of John Mayer and Ingrid Michaelson, have committed to a change.
As dissimilar as “roses” and “revolutions” seem to be, they’re union is nothing short of beautiful. Aptly describing the contrasting qualities this duo has to offer, Roses & Revolutions is the new, and aurally pleasing, yin and yang.
Be sure to purchase copy of Roses & Revolutions from iTunes or Amazon to listen for yourself.