Haroula Rose: “These Open Roads” (Review)

Haroula Rose
These Open Roads

Singer-songwriter Haroula Rose writes gently rendered, folk-inflected and primarily acoustic pop songs that show a sense of balance and restraint all too rare today. Yes, her style would be eminently suitable to a Lilith Fair revival show and her material seems ripe for soundtrack work. But she never gives us the overwrought, overly confessional aspect that plagues some singer-songwriters’ music. Instead, her still, small (and eminently winsome) voice seamlessly inhabits the many tuneful and elegantly arranged songs on These Open Roads, her debut LP.

Andy LeMaster does a particularly fine job producing the record, allowing for a variety of instruments to visit the proceedings without ever making things sound too busy. Deft touches, such as the intertwining rhythm guitars plus slide on “Close My Eyes to See,” the whistles on “Free to be Me,” and the pairing of banjo and cello on “A Place Under the Sun,” enliven the material. Rose’s voice is close-miked and intimate without ever seeming precious. While some may like their pop with more oomph than is present here, I’m very fond of this “less is more” approach. It allows the singer – and her songs – to speak for themselves. When they have a lot to say, as does Haroula Rose, it’s quite a winning approach.

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