Collaborations are born out of different dynamics. For Alexa Rose and Matt Pond PA, it was something just this side of fandom—at least initially.
“I grew up in the mountains of western Virginia, where some are still enchanted by snow in the winter,” says Rose. “I listened to the radio in the dark hours of morning, waiting for our county to be added to the list of school closings. Underneath the snow day, there’s a longing for peace—for the wheels of the world to stop for a while.”
In high school, someone gave Rose a mix CD that included “Snow Day,” from Matt Pond PA’s 2005 Winter Songs EP. “‘Snow Day’ finally explained that feeling to me,” she says. “It does what a good song is supposed to do: It makes you feel seen—like the way you feel about something is not only normal but important.”
Years later, Pond “got the chills” when Rose namechecked him on “Wild Peppermint,” from her 2021 album, Headwaters. “I couldn’t believe such a wildly talented musician would mention my name in a song,” he says. “It seemed natural to ask if Alexa would sing on a song I’d written.”
All that mutual admiration led to Call And Response, which is set for release January 20 on 131 Records, with a winter tour to follow. The five-song EP includes a stunning, languidly beautiful cover of the Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”
“The Verve’s Urban Hymns is, in my mind, a perfect album,” says Pond. “‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ plays on a constant loop in my mind. On the hottest week of the summer, we rebuilt the song into something that resonated with everyone involved, with Chris Hansen recording and accompanying on guitar, Hilary James on cello and Claudia Forest on violin. These collaborations are the reason I keep making music.”
An arresting piece of backstage theater, the video follows comedian Nikki Glaser as she makes her way, in full Richard Ashcroft swagger mode, to the microphone for yet another performance, (literally) running into Pond and others along the way. There are additional cameos from comedian Sean O’Brien and Pond’s wife, singer/songwriter Anya Marina.
“I love working with Nikki,” says Pond. “I’m blown away by her performances, and I empathize with the range of emotion underneath it all. I thought about that walk from the dressing room to the stage. The one Nikki does, night after night—all the bravery and fear in a flashing, fleeting window.”
We’re proud to premiere the video for “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”