Dua Saleh returns with a new EP titled ROSETTA, a name inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a pioneering black artist who became known as the Godmother of rock and roll. Like Dua, Sister Rosetta Tharpe wasn’t afraid of violating taboos or religious dogma. Tharpe wowed both churches and juke joints with distorted guitar stylings and a flamboyant stage presence. And though she was married several times, she was known to have had romantic relationships with women. Dua draws a parallel to Tharpe with their own biography of growing up queer in a strict Muslim household. They channel Tharpe’s self-assured swagger as they fearlessly recount intimate encounters.
The production on ROSETTA is high voltage and nuanced, helmed by executive producer, Psymun, with assistance from Sir Dylan and Andrew Broder. Songs like "smut" and "hellbound" are built on top of hypnotic vocals that crisscross with synths and guitars over drums that quake. With an economy of language that reflects their background as a poet, Dua patches together lucid memories of blunt ashes and boots caked with dirt. Flashbacks of intimate scars are transposed with epic imagery and a regal disposition descending into the underworld. ROSETTA is both sanctified and sacrilegious; holy and godless; angelic and demonic. Sounds like Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Sounds like Dua Saleh.