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Haroula Rose

These Open Roads

(self released; US: 18 Jan 2011; UK: 18 Jan 2011)

Pretty songs for your inner folkie

There’s a distinctly retro vibe to Haroula Rose’s debut, the kind of warm organic sound that might have been hugely successful in 1974.  The songs are simple, the melodies pretty, the instrumentation and ornamentation just enough to prevent things from becoming tedious. A slew of musicians back her up, including Orenda Fink on vocals, but Rose is the focus of all these songs. “Brand New Start” kicks off a simple folk arrangement with unexpected, reverbed guitar harmonics, while “A Place Under the Sun” marries cello with banjo in an unexpectedly successful fashion. Much of the record, including tracks like “New Year’s Day,” “Free to Be Me,” “Another Breakup Ballad”, relies on the basic elements of a pretty voice expressing an earnest emotion. Tempos tend to be in the middle-to-slow range, as you might expect; there are no rave-ups here, and a tinkling glockenspiel accent is more likely than a guitar solo. Rose’s voice betrays a limited range, and it rarely strives for anything more than a breathy prettiness, still, it’s a lovely record all around.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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