Warm, natural, casually excellent, the LA songwriter Arrica
Rose’s third full-length feels as soft and worn-in as an old tee-shirt the first
time through. Let Alone Sea is the kind of record that you feel instantly
familiar with, as if you’d put it on late at night all your life, whenever you
needed to get back to basics or set your head straight.
Rose’s dusky alto is
sure and true, fluttering a little at the edges, as she sings wisely,
knowingly, about sailing away or bending a recalcitrant world to one’s will. There’s
ease to these melodies, a bit of twang and blues slipped into their clean pop
contours, though all that is layered over with a dreamy bit of gauze. When Rose
murmurs ruefully that “everybody will burn,” in opener “Everybody,” her voice
is a bittersweet wisp of smoke itself, though surrounded by luminous textures
of 4AD-style alt-rock in the arrangements.
Rose’s band, named the Dot Dot Dots (or ….s), supports her
in evocative, reticent style, putting shivery auras of guitar around lovely
“Sail Away,” swaggering like a New Orleans funeral band in “Summer’s Gonna Burn
Me (So Are You)” and cranking up the rock, Peter Gunn-style, in “We Made Out
All Right.” “If the World Won’t Bend” is the album’s highlight, but just by a
hair, moving in slo-mo splendor through glowing landscapes of piano, slide
guitar and ruminative regrets. Here as elsewhere on the album, Rose understates
her case, allowing a slight rasp, a subtle trick of phrasing, a tiny bit of
vibrato to convey the song’s heartache without overselling it. Her subtlety
comes in handy, too, on the closing song, which conflates the Buggles’ new wave
anthem, “Video Killed the Radio Star” with Louis Armstrong’s tear-jerking “Wonderful
World,” and magically skirts sentimentality.
This is a fantastic album,
instantly accessible but gaining depth and nuance every time you put it on.
DOWNLOAD: “If the
World Won’t Bend,” “Sail Away” JENNIFER