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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nettie Rose - People I Know

Nettie Rose – People I Know
2013, Nettie Rose

You might say that Santa Monica native Nettie Rose has music in her blood.  She is the granddaughter of Alan Freed, the DJ who coined the phrase “rock-n-roll”.  Her father is a music publisher and her mother is a rock archivist.  Nettie Rose grew up with the music business as a second nature to her, and fell in love with some of the more esoteric songwriters of the past 30 years.  Honing her craft in a boarding school band, and later on her own, Nettie Rose is on the path to becoming one of the songwriters she so idolized as a child.  Her debut album, People I Know, is a series of vignettes on people real and imagined from all across the spectrum. 

The grasp of humanity Rose shows on People I Know is striking in one so young.  Granted, she falls into cliché on occasion where experience has yet to open doors for her, but even here Rose puts a human face on the caricature and brings the character to life. All of this is delivered in an ever-evolving mélange of rock, country, folk and blues that occasionally ventures in European styles.  Nettie Rose’s voice is utilitarian and striking; not pretty but perfectly honed for the songs she writes.  She sets off on the right foot with “Ride Ride Ride”, a classic-style story song that plays to Rose’s strengths of lyrical and musical constructs.  “For My Young Lord Drake” has a plaintive, mesmerizing inertia.  It’s one of the crown jewels of the album, and Nettie Rose delivers it with a no-nonsense style that works very well. 

“Last Chance Saloon” shows Rose’s ability as a composer as she crafts a wondrous atmosphere around a simple story song.  The high point of the affair comes on “The Puppet Cabaret”.  Rose is entirely in her element vocally, and you will walk away humming/singing this to yourself.  “Corduroy Marina” wins the award for the best use of the world “misanthropic” in a popular tune.  There’s an almost novelty-like feel to the lyrics here, but Rose’s straight-forward songwriting makes this feel like art rather than novelty.  Nettie Rose closes with a double track.  “Mean Manblues” is a solid closing number, and is followed by an untitled hidden track.  This last is a gem, although Rose almost seems to run out of air on a couple of the longer vocal lines.

Nettie Rose delves into the singer/songwriter tradition with aplomb on People I Know.  Her effort is not wasted, although it’s clear that Rose is still finding her niche.  The album is a very strong first effort.  With continued development of her craft, Nettie Rose is on the path to one day be the sort of singer/songwriter that other burgeoning artists hope to be like.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

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