Maria Rose & The Swiss Kicks - New Direction
2011, Maria Rose
2011, Maria Rose
Flint and Ypsilanti, Michigan are the co-homes of electro rock n soul trio Maria Rose & The Swiss Kicks. Led by the powerful and soulful voice of Maria Rose, The Swiss Kicks power their way through an intriguing though sometimes muddled stylistic ménage on their debut EP, New Direction.
Maria Rose & The Swiss Kicks get things started with "Velvet Cabaret", a musical biography of a strppr with dreams of owning her own French Café. There's a morbid sort of pull to this song, as we hear the story of someone struggling to break free of a hard life. It's never clear if our heroine will succeed, even though she's on the verge of her dream. Maria Rose gives the whole affair a soulful and gritty read with a voice that will stick in your mind. "Pineapple Wine" is a quirky folk/pop Boss nova; a sexy and sensual invitation to let down your hair and enjoy the moment. "Angel Face" is a maudlin ballad that's half-hearted and vaguely depressed in sound. There's a distinctive disconnect between the lyrics and the tone of the music presented here, enough so that it's distracting to the listener.
"Gypsy Of NYC" is another musical bio, this time of a young lady with quasi-magical qualities. The arrangement and instrumentation is unique and compelling for pop music, even if the production does muddle the sound a bit. "Wildcard" is catchy and intriguing; showcasing Maria Rose's voice in compelling fashion. This is one of those songs that eat at you, growing on you slowly, over time. The EP closes with "New Directions", an unfortunately apt tune that sounds something like Tori Amos and includes an unfortunate and non-committal rap. This one just doesn't work all that well.
Maria Rose & The Swiss Kicks make a solid impression with New Direction, although the production on the album sounds incomplete at times. The band skates the middle ground between acoustic band and full sound. Unfortunately this half-measure doesn't seem to suite them well. For whatever flaws New Direction might have, however, Maria Rose's voice can't be counted among them. Rose will make you forget your troubles when she opens her mouth to sing. The songwriting here is still developing and uneven, but the future looks bright for Maria Rose & The Swiss Kicks.
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)