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These Open Roads

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
In this age of copious home recording, where every Joe or Jill with an acoustic guitar and vocal chords thinks their folk music worth public embrace, a beleaguered listener can be forgiven if the prospect of another such release isn't cause for cartwheels. But talent is a stubborn thing; and even if it is concealed by such regrettable product plague like the proverbial needle in this ever-expanding haystack, when you hear it, it still announces "Here I am, come and get me!" as if lit up in sparklers. Haroula Rose is an L.A. newcomer with Chicago roots who needs little more than her chords and harmoniously honeyed voice to make her lyrics dig in on her debut, even on initial encounter. Cases in point: the utter joy of "Free to Be Me," a lovely trilling tune evoking the ease of love -- in duet with Chi-town's Sad Brad Smith -- accented by gentle whistling and minor, backwoods country harmonica, juxtaposed against the raining regret and sallow despair (with sympathetic trumpets) of "Another Breakup Ballad." The disillusion of the latter (and its more heartsick, wound-licking C&W cousin "The Leaving Song"), hardened against the memories of flowers, apology cards, and poignant evenings, plus the anticipation of a cold bed, is nearly as wisdom-won as fellow Angelino cabaret star Sam Phillips -- just short of Phillips' accrued, affecting, knowing cynicism from greater age and divorce. Whereas the simple relish of acceptance in the latter and the opening "Brand New Start" show what such lessons learned might earn: refreshed romance like comfortable shoes. And with expert production from multi-instrumentalist Andy LeMaster bringing out every nuance of her accomplished playing and Miranda Lee Richards-like sweet voice, along with myriad guest musicians who spice each track with perfecting touches (bells, accordion, mandolin, pedal steel, cello, piano etc., and on "Simple Time," Rose's toy piano that sounds like a hammered dulcimer). These Open Roads displays one small wonder after another. ~ Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover, Rovi
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