Arrica Rose has a voice that sounds effortless. It’s breathy and lilting, sweet but with the barest hint of a rasp, enough to suggest she might be hiding something. On her latest record with the …‘s (pronounced “dot dot dot’s”), Let Alone Sea, the dreamy, languid textures of these songs can help brace that voice. This is country torch singer stuff, but there’s a polished sheen in place of the dust. That’s not to say it can’t surprise—the clean, surf-rock riff of “We Made Out Alright” cuts nicely against Rose’s ghostly vocals, while “Something’s Gonna Burn Me (So Are You)” swings with soulful horns that bring the song to life between its thumping choruses. These surprises stand out, though, because the rest of Let Alone Sea plays it awfully safe. These are mid- to low-tempo numbers meant to highlight Rose’s voice, but in all the heavy space of songs like “Sail Away” or “Riverbed” she never distinguishes herself from other breathy singer-songwriters. Even the oddball closer, a hushed combination of “Video Killed the Radio Star” and “What a Wonderful World” feels more forced than playful. Let Alone Sea shows moments of grace from a good singer, but as it rolls along it manages to make an effortless voice sound like it’s trying way too hard.
// Notes from the Road
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