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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”
Self-released
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.

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