Record Of The Week # 106

Esther Rose – How Many Times

Sonically this is an upbeat record, in contrast to the slough of despair that apparently inspired the album. Rose’s third long play release comes on the back of a tough couple of years as regards matters of her heart. However, as you listen closely to songs about failed relationships, the lively americana country tunes roll out. She has the melancholy resignation of a woman who’s been passed up and is now moving on to her next lost cause. She’s quite a collector and relays the stories with honest reflection and deprecation. Her voice is occasionally (and interestingly) off-tone and fragile but mainly fits the mood and her range carries the arresting tunes.

“How Many Times” has her standing in the shower until the water runs cold and taking pills to cope with a broken heart. This single release has her voice over a snappy snare beat whilst the fiddle plays around a chorus of voices to make the melody a little country. “Keep Me Running” is a pacy highlight with the fiddle of Lyle Werner again to the fore. All the tracks on the album are underpinned by an upright bass and give the album an acoustic feel. Throughout Laura Cantrell came to mind because of the short personal stories and the type of acoustic country and roots she purveys.

“My Bad Mood” is a two-step over the insistent snare that sees Matt Bell’s pedal steel come to the fore. Max Bien Kahn’s picks some tasteful electric guitar on “When You Go” – ‘Well I guess your little lie was the last of our goodbyes’.On Songs Remain over a gentle acoustic backing she sings wistfully  ‘Black coffee and bacon fat / You’re an inner city lumberjack / Yeah, a country boy through and through / I think that’s why I fell for you’. “Are You Out There” is made more tender-hearted by the dance tunewhich accompanies more rejection. Againmore male departures and sad Saturday nights at home. Another two-step finishes the album as the band strike up a lively rhythm on “Without You” and Rose serenades us with a splendid melody. Despite more lovers left behind whilst she’s on the road, she seems to be bearing up.

There’s not a misstep here, not least helped by an accomplished band, accessible lyrics and considerable songwriting talent. It’s a very engaging and consistent album. If this pleasing 40 minutes is the result of a dysfunctional love life then I hope she continues using songwriting as her therapy.

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