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It’s been five years since New Jersey native Rose’s last album, 2013’s sumptuous Stars, Stripes, and Milestones, written while she was pregnant with her first child, Miles (named for Miles Davis). I called Stars “understated and organic” in my issue 73 review, when comparing it to its more voluminous predecessor, 2010’s one-disc rock, one-disc dance remix Alter-Ego dual-EP release. But this self-titled sixth LP outshines them both. Boasting livelier and more luxurious production and arrangements, every song seems to jump from the speakers. And behind an able-bodied assemblage of A-list players, including guitarists James Mastro (of The Bongos and Ian Hunter), David Patterson, Jack Petruzzelli (of The Fab Faux; he also handles keyboards), and Rob McKeever, and robust rhythm section Jeffrey Allen and Brian Delaney (drummer for New York Dolls and Melissa Etheridge), songs like the assertive “Always Mean the World” and chastising “Change” pack a harder-hitting punch than anything on her previous platters.
Supported by the beguiling backing vocals of Katya Diaz and Lucy Woodward, Rose’s upbeat voice has never sounded more radiant or resilient. Given her music’s radio-friendly, mainstream pop leanings, her breathy, buttery purr brings to mind a bevy of celebrated contemporary crooners, like Lisa Loeb, Natalie Imbruglia, and Debbie Gibson. But thanks to her prodigious pipes, she infuses each song with plenty of soul and spirit, as on the Carole King/Adele-conjuring, piano-fueled stunner “SunlightMoonshine,” the jazzy, saxophone-stamped (by horn man Stan Harrison) ballad “Baggage Claim,” and the country-flecked, strings-shaded (courtesy Pauline Kim Harris) cover of the recently departed Tom Petty’s 1994 “Wildflowers.” Whether she’s honoring her musical heroes on the happy-go-lucky “Headphones,” encouraging others to embrace their exclusivity on the breezy “Be Who You Are,” savoring a late-night nature stroll with her lover on the island-flavored “Infinitely,” or praising her parents’ selfless sacrifices on the warm-hearted “Wish You Had,” her seductive, sincere singing could make even a hard-to-please cynic like Simon Cowell turn somersaults of satisfaction. (stacierosemusic.com)
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