If you want a whiff of the good old days, take a glance at Arrica Rose's 3rd CD. The novo-hippie Earth mother (shades of Maria Muldaur!) is standing up against a beat-up Dodge Econoline somewhere in the woods. As a cat who used to own a '67 Volks van and travelled around the U.S. in it for a couple decades, my second choice woulda been the Econoline: lotsa space, easy on the gas, cheap. Rose's music is pretty vintage, too…in a modern fashion complete with cool sonic bric-a-brac and any number of influences and references. Let Alone Sea travels backwards and forwards in its lush quest for definitive statements, and succeeds damn well in the task.
In her last outing, the singer / composer / multi-instrumentalist tackled the Bee Gees Tragedy so adeptly that Esqure.com named it "one of the best covers of all time" (and I'll refer Ms. Rose to the same group's killer-but-forgotten Odessa double-LP, 'cause that one slots right into her wont). When you hear the gauzily laconic Sail Away here (her own, not Randy Newman's), you'll understand why. Pierced with the sharp tang of regret and foggy pastorality, it's a lusciously drear track demonstrative of her acumen in understatement, earthbound and spacey at the same time.
Rose's homage to the Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star transforms that older superb dance number from a bouncing alt-pop-prog masterpiece to a spare weepy pensee that, when you re-listen to the lyrics, is perfectly in line with the cut's sentiment, forlorn and forsaken. The predominant tone of Let Alone Sea is a weave of almost chamber classicalist folk, neo-madrigal, and mutant roots (catch Dan Garcia's lap steel in various locations). From what I can determine of her young years, she writes decades beyond herself, almost Laura Nyro-esque at times…with a bit of Sandy Denny, Janis Ian, and it may even be that Tom Waits would write like this were the femme rather than one of the most beloved guttersnipes of all time.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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