From the very beginning of the opening cut to These Open Roads, it's obvious that Haroula Rose knows how to arrange a song, here with a warm lazy atmosphere, pinging harmonics, and descending chords painting the background in a melancholic paean to individuality and how it's lost…and maybe regained. Rose sings in a gentle Suzanne Vega-esque tone and with much the same enveloping sad wistfulness that attracts the ear while reaching down into an always strange world of emotions never quite resolved.
She also displays a peck of fine strumming and fingerpicking while enchanting in a folksy, rootsy, late afternoon milieu. Ironically, Another Breakup Ballad is a snappy ditty, reversing the mode's expectations, the refrain asserting that 'it's time' to say goodbye and move on as dreams grow cold and hearts estrange. Rather than wallow in regret and maudlin remembrances, the narrator has made her decisions and is ready to turn the page, griefs dissolved, light pouring in. Throughout the disc, her backing band is gentle, mellow, chosen from sidemen/women from many venues, including stints with Stevie Nicks, John Cale, Annie Lennox, Rachel Yamagata, and etc.
The vocals, however, are the featured element and wisely kept up front all through Roads, including a duet or two, so that the imprint of the human is more naked, immediate, and mellifluously insinuating. The instrumental backing will have the listener thinking of John Martyn, Janis Ian, Nick Drake, Dan Hicks, and the composers who say much in deceptively simplified terms that keep unfolding. The fact that Ms. Rose rooted herself in Baez, Cohen, Cat Stevens, and others has much to do with that as the uncredited engineering (probably producer/multi-musician Andy LeMaster) immaculately lays down a spotless canvas where every nuance is captured perfectly. For a debut effort, this is extremely impressive and should be appearing on every indie station in the country. I'd include the mainstream in that as well but am pretty sure there's no one left in the corporate airwaves hip enough to recognize genuinely attractive fare without a road map and a compass.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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