July 11, 2009

Say Hello to Haroula Rose

With music that’s as heartening as a lullaby, yet informed by perceptions both redolent and inherently mature, singer/songwriter Haroula Rose introduces herself as a remarkable talentand a remarkably promising one at thaton her debut release, a five-track EP entitled Someday.

Nurturing an organic, windswept sound borne of folk and alt.country influences, Rose—whose soft, unaffected voice recalls Alison Krauss and perhaps Mindy Smith—is generously supported by delicate melodies and arrangements.

She draws on themes of doubt and self-assurance—both the presence and the lack thereof—endearing herself as empathetic and emotionally receptive. In “The Leaving Song,” for instance, she sings with a wistful premonition of how her insecurities will cause the loss of a love, likely her first of real significance. “Oh babe it’s all so new to me,” she laments amidst a gentle rustle of strings and piano.

In turn, “Love Will Follow” finds her conciliatory and strong, assuring her special someone that in spite of his apparent disillusionment—“You get further away/ Every day/ What do you look for?”—she will always be with him. A stark and steady guitar progression underscores this promise and, while its sentiment may be simple, the compassion with which Rose imparts it makes for a gripping song.

Rose turns especially pensive, though, on “If I Could Pray,” during which she questions the essence of her faith and howif such were more secureit would sustain her in moments of great uncertainty. Ironically, she does so against a playful rhythm of hand claps and assorted strings, making what could’ve been a brooding meditation into something more hopeful and resilient.

Of course, it would be presumptuous to conclude—even though she’s written everything on this EP in the first person (and despite references here of her as a subject)—that Haroula Rose is relating firsthand experiences or exact personal feelings. What believing in such an assumption does speak to, however, is her authenticity as a songwriter as well as an interpreter of her own works.

In just over twenty minutes, Rose makes a notable impression with Someday, delivering one of the finer debuts of the year thus far.