Chicago-born songstress Haroula Rose is following up the 2009 release of
her full length debut “These Open Roads” (produced by Andy LeMaster) with
an EP’s worth of new recordings to be released in early Spring 2012.
Meanwhile she’ll be recording her second full length album January 13-23
in Georgia with singer/songwriter Jim White producing and Thom Monahan
(Devendra Banhart, Fleet Foxes) mixing for a Fall 2012 release.
I’m including a link to a remix of her “Close My Eyes To See” remixed by
Luke Top of Fool’s Gold that you’re free to offer as MP3 for free
Also, here’s a recently released video for her versionof Mason Jennings’
a selection of press quotes:
A solo singer-songstress with an impossibly intimate croon, Haroula Rose
should sound divine raining down acoustic notes and lyrics about love from
the tiny loft overlooking Echo Park’s Origami record shop. The
L.A.-via-Chicago artist covers impressive ground on her just-out debut
album, These Open Roads, from the bare-bones Topanga Canyon folk on “Brand
New Start,” to the Jenny Lewis–like alt-country of “Another Breakup
Ballad,” to her cover of “Duluth” by Mason Jennings. It makes a lot of
sense that longtime Saddle Creek affiliate Andy Lemaster produced the
album, and it doesn’t hurt that he wrangled contributions from members of
Azure Ray and Drive-By Truckers, among others. Still, Miss Rose should
have no problem winning the hearts of both the familiar and uninitiated
all by her lonesome.
-Chris Martins/LA Weekly
When does this recipe ever go wrong? Simple, poppy country rounds sung by
a pretty-girl voice with some semi-exotic arrangements – tiny, twinkling
bells or lazy cabasa — peppered throughout to keep things interesting.
The best moments on the record come when Haroula sings the same thing over
and over and over, like the last minute of “Duluth,” when she repeats “I’m
gonna marry that boy” like a Lucinda Williams mantra. Let the lady easy
your little sufferin’”
– Victoria Charles/Vice January
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
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
Some time back, we chatted up Haroula Rose, an acclaimed singer-songwriter
hailing from Chicago and based in L.A., who was returning from a writing
retreat across the pond. Rose’s self-released album, These Open Roads,
earned her raves from L.A. Weekly, No Depression, Vice, and others. We
talked with Rose about the album, her approach to songwriting, and the
Jackson Browne song she wishes she’d written.
Tell us about the songwriting retreat you went on.
It was in the Devon countryside — a few hours north of London — at a place
called the Arvon Foundation, hosted by Chris Difford. I met some really
great UK songwriters. We would basically wake up and eat, write songs all
day, then perform them in this barn in the evenings after dinner. Some
nights were very late ones involving music and dancing in the barn too.
What’s the last song you wrote? Tell us about it.
I wrote it on the retreat last week with Geoff Martyn. It is called
“Time’s Fool” which is a reference to Sonnet 116 which is about how true
love is constant and does not change with time. My friend asked me that
morning to write a song that could express his complicated feelings about
a situation he was in. That’s where it came from, a kind of “assignment,”
so to speak.
What moves you to write a song?
It could from anything anywhere – observations, feelings, things I read,
photographs or films. Mostly it’s just feelings and a way of expressing
Has your songwriting process evolved over the years?
Oh man, I hope so. I mean, I think so.
What’s a song on These Open Roads you really want people to hear, and why?
“Brand New Start,” probably because it is about finding each other and
ourselves. I really think we can all relate to the idea of loss or
hardship, and how these things are usually blessings in disguise so we can
grow and learn. Ideally, of course. And how when you find yourself,
usually after being humbled by hard times, you can really relate to others
in a more real and honest way.
What’s a lyric you’re particularly proud of on the album?
“We want to feel the sun on our faces/But fear its greatness”
Do you do any other kinds of writing?
Yeah I write poems and essays and stuff. I try to keep a journal every
day. Somehow it’s easier to keep it going when I am travelling though.
Are there any words you love, or hate?
Yes — I love the words “ergonomic” and “subversive.”
How do you typically write songs? Words first, or melody?
It can be either, but melody coming first usually means the song gets
finished in one go of it rather than going back or thinking about it too
much. The melody first is more instinctive I suppose, like finding a way
to express a feeling without words then the words come easier after that.
There is no method, per se, but I am getting more disciplined about
setting aside time to write and just seeing what comes.
Do you find yourself revising a lot, or do you like to write automatically?
Automatically is preferable but this is never a guarantee. Summoning the
muse is elusive and it might not come at the most opportune moment. Thank
God for voice memos. I just got started in co-writing though, and doing a
bunch of it. This process does involve revising because there were two of
us figuring out the words and melody at once.
If you had to pick one song of yours to be remembered by after you were
gone, what would it be, and why?
A new one I wrote a few weeks ago called “All I Know.” And I choose that
one because it sums up a lot of what I think music tries to capture — that
a lot of life boils down to discovering something, losing it, and trying
to understand that process while it’s all so fleeting. Like watching water
slip through your fingers when you’re holding it.
Who’s an underrated songwriter, in your opinion?
I have been listening to Ron Sexsmith a lot lately and cannot believe I
haven’t been listening to him my whole life. I just saw him play in London
too, wow what a great show. I suppose he’s not underrated because he’s
getting more wide recognition lately. So I would have to say maybe Laura
Veirs or Jim White.
What’s a song you wish you’d written?
“These Days” by Jackson Browne.
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 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!
Rose is a striking-looking, brunette-haired L.A. newcomer with Chicago
roots that needs little more than her chords and harmoniously honey 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, wounds-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” shows what
such lessons learnt 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 that 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 hammer dulcimer), These displays one small wonder after
another. (And RIYL Azure Ray , too, as Orenda Fink is a friend that
cameos.) – Jack Rabid/BigTakover.com
Haroula Rose’s debut These Open Roads blends blissfully orchestrated folk
with naïve lyrics and Roses’s uncommonly lovely singing voice. All
together, the whole thing ends up sounding too good to be true…It’s an
accomplished debut but a bit of an over-achievement.
– Andrew Coulon/Ghettoblaster #27
As the summer months get warmer and warmer, Haroula Rose’s music is like a
refreshing, cool breeze. Her debut album, entitled “These Open Roads,” was
produced by Andy Lemaster and recorded in Athens, GA. With her honeyed
voice and folky songwriting, Rose fits in quite nicely with Lemaster’s
repertoire of working with Bright Eyes, Azure Ray and the Good Life. Azure
Ray’s Orenda Fink even contributed vocals on the album. Likewise, the
Southern country influence from Athens seeped into the album on songs such
as, “The Leaving Song” and “A Place Under the Sun,” with their quivering
While most of the songs on the album ruminate on the topics of lost love
and starting anew, Rose’s enchanting voice remains hopeful. It makes sense
that her resume includes singing commercials and teaching music to
children. Originally from Chicago, Rose attended the University of Chicago
and then moved to Madrid on a prestigious Fulbright grant, sponsored by
the US Department of State. After traveling through Europe, North Africa
and the Middle East, Rose decided to settle in Los Angeles. The soft
guitar strumming and sparkling voice reflect that of a well traveled
person who has gained a strong compassion for people. On the song “Free to
Be Me,” Rose joyfully sings “there’s more to believe and so much more to
see, I am free, free to be me,” showing that she is eager and confident to
nurture a long and fruitful musical journey. Rose is set to perform on
July 16 at the Echo Country Outpost.
– Karla Hernandez la.thedelimagazine.com