October 23, 2013

Album Review: Anna Rose - Behold a Pale Horse

Raised on classic rock with scores of stage and screen running in her blood, singer/songwriter Anna Rose embarked upon her musical career in earnest with her 2010 debut LP, Nomad, harvesting her formative influences with sleek, progressive-rock textures and earthier, more acoustic distinctions. A foundational album as much as a first one, Nomad was expansive enough so as to give her the latitude to expound upon it in any number of fashions on subsequent efforts. She suggested how brazenly she could embrace that latitude the following year on a stunning cover of Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage,” translating an already tense and fretful confession into something more tempestuous and carnal in comparison.

On her recently released sophomore LP, Behold a Pale Horse (White Pony Records), Anna Rose continues to build on the promise of her debut while challenging her talent along the way. Her songwriting, particularly with regard to the melodic sophistication of pop-oriented songs like “Drive” and “Beautiful World” or the climactic title track, has developed more versatile and evocative dimensions. The same could be said of her singing, too, as such a diversity of songs necessitates that she approach her performances in equally varied ways. What most comes across, though, is her confidence, which she projects with bombshell bravado on “Electric Child” and “Because You’re Mine,” the former a blues-drenched, cabaret sort-of romp, while the latter is a riff-driven slowburner with thick, grimy guitars punctuating Anna Rose’s hot-blooded, come-hither vocal. Both songs are sexy as all hell, and the balance of release and restraint with which she sings them is phenomenal. All told, for an artist still in the early stages of her musical journey, she clearly knows where she’s headed and, more important, what it takes to get there.