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Album review: Haroula Rose's 'These Open Roads'

December 28, 2010 |  9:50 am

Haroula1 The feathery tones of Haroula Rose’s debut album, “These Open Roads,” are pretty enough to cause suspicion. Underneath her gentle finger-picked guitar and girlish but graceful voice, does this L.A.-based singer-songwriter, originally from Chicago, provide the song structure to support all this loveliness?

She does — and each listen to her 11 songs (and one Mason Jennings cover) reveals a new melodic turn that the ear didn’t pick up on before. Recruiting a stable of musicians, including Drive-By Truckers’ John Neff on pedal steel, Orenda Fink from Azure Ray on vocals and producer Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes, R.E.M.) on slide guitar and a slew of other instruments, Rose picked the right company to realize this highly textured collection that explores a few different moods, though always at a tender remove.

On “Simple Time,” with its peals of mandolin and plinking toy piano, Rose wishes to go back to a time that’s still ripe with hope. Over the playfully cantering rhythms of “Another Breakup Ballad,” she kicks a dodgy lover to the curb. But the fragmentary “Lavender Moon” is the standout, a spooked love song kissed with atmospherics that would give Tom Waits the shivers.

—Margaret Wappler

Haroula Rose
“These Open Roads”
Three stars out of four

Haroula Rose will perform Jan. 18 and Feb. 1 (album release party) at the Hotel Café, 16231/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.