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.