Haroula Rose: These Open Roads

2010 has been a good year for Haroula Rose. In February, she had her single “Someday” featured in an episode of How I Met Your Mother and this month was named one of the Top 100 Unsigned Artists by Music Connection Magazine. Building on this momentum, Rose will be releasing her first full-length album titled These Open Roads in January 2011.

When listening to Rose’s new album, the first thing you will undoubtedly notice is her voice. She has an amazing floating voice that hearkens to many folk singers that have come before her. With hints of Joni Mitchell, she harnesses all the sweetness of Feist while retaining the raw expressiveness of a Sheryl Crow. Whether singing about a break-up or the freedom of being in an honest relationship with someone, there is never a doubt that Rose believes in the words she sings.

Rose is much more than just a pretty voice though. Her songwriting shows a maturity that is not commonplace in much of today’s popular music. The subject matter can be grossly personal at times, but not so personal as to isolate the listener.  While the songs do tend to get emotional, they never seem to tread into the dangerous ground of being insincere and written solely for being put into a commercial or on the soundtrack of a show on The CW.

Each song is approached with deceptive simplicity and runs smoothly, stripped free of the over-production that is rampant in much of today’s pop music. The track “Place Under The Sun” relies on little more than a few instruments, some light percussion, and Rose’s voice to carry a beautifully haunting melody. Other songs, like “Another Breakup Ballad” and “The Leaving Song”, have a distinct feeling of professional country music before it became terrible Southern Rock.

The sweetly infectious “Free to be Me” is the stand out track on the album. It’s a wonderful duet with Sad Brad Smith about being with someone that accepts you, blemishes and all. With its catchy tune, cheerful chimes, rich mandolin, and upbeat tempo, it almost screams, “Put me in a quirky car commercial and I will permanently embed myself into people’s brains.” While tip-toeing on the edge of saccharin, the song luckily never falls into the dreaded trap of being obnoxious.

These Open Roads is truly an example of solid musicianship. Producer Andy Lemaster collected a wide variety of musicians that have played with the likes of Stevie Nicks, Jesca Hoop, and Neutral Milk Hotel. More impressively, Lemaster ensures that each track is about the song and  that Rose’s vocals are always the main attraction. Nowhere in the album will you find overplayed guitar solos, over the top drum parts, or crazed banjo picking. Each part simply plays its role, which is to polish these already beautiful songs into sparkling audio gems.

In this age of YouTube and American Idol, we are faced with amazing singers everyday, but there is still something special about a singer like Haroula Rose. Much like Joan Baez or Karen Carpenter, there is an intangible quality when she sings. Combine that quality with good song writing and well executed playing, and you’re bound to get a good record every time. While These Open Roads may not set the music industry on its ear, it is a very enjoyable and beautiful debut for Haroula Rose.

[xrr rating=4/5]

2 Comments

  1. KathyNo Gravatar
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    You might really enjoy Nicole Atkins if you haven’t checked her out yet, she is coming out with a new record due out 1/25 called “Mondo Amore” check it out on FB http://www.facebook.com/NicoleAtkinsOfficial?v=app_4949752878

    • Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
      Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I actually love Nicole Atkins since I heard her on World Cafe way back in the day. I have the Bleeding Diamonds EP around here somewhere. I had the hugest crush on her for an entire summer lol

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rory: Guerrilla Geek and Guerrilla Geek, Guerrilla Geek. Guerrilla Geek said: Posted: Haroula Rose: These Open Roads http://www.guerrillageek.com/2010/12/haroula-rose-these-open-roads/ […]

  2. […] Before I get into whatever this post will eventually be about, I have written two more articles for Guerrilla Geek. Here’s the links; An interview with Professor Elemental A review of Haroula Rose’s new Album These Open Roads […]

Say something... I dare you.