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Monday, November 30, 2009

Review: Carrie Rowan - Almost Home

Carrie Rowan - Almost Home
2008, Carrie Rowan/Daybreak

Carrie Rowan is a musical late bloomer who turned to the path of singer/songwriter after a decade in the corporate world. Like many musicians, the Massachusetts-based Rowan seeks to make sense of the world with her instruments of choice: piano and a Martin guitar. Her debut album, Almost Home, is an exploration of emotions, memories and events that Rowan has experience on the path of her life. It is an honest and open album, as straight forward as a collection of journal entries yet with a flair for the poetic muse.

Almost Home opens with Just The Thought, a song of love, devotion and insecurity with a wonderfully memorable chorus. Rowan has a voice that's quite lovely; she doesn't blow you away with volume, but her voice settles in next to you like a comfortable friend. Free Me is a gorgeous tune about wanting to overcome the fear of trusting another; there's an almost desperate quality to the song that comes through in Rowan's voice, and its one of the most moving moments on the album. Souls Will Fly is a song about loving someone who can't love you back completely. Rowan deeps striving deeper and deeper for something her counterpart might not be able to give back, and she's on the edge of walking away, but maybe keeps bringing her back. It's a lovely tune full of heart and a bit of anguish.

On She's Getting There, Rowan tells the story of someone working their way through the recovery from love lost. The repetitive nature of the chorus is likely intended to mimic the baby-steps people take when getting over grief of any kind, but goes on perhaps a bit too long. The vocal harmonies here are absolutely stunning however. Rowan breaks out a snifter of Blues/Folk on Solitude, adding a bit more flavor to the goings on. It's a great tune with a lot of positive energy and allows Rowan to show off some of the timbre in her voice. No Words is definite Mix Tape material; about the magic that happens between two people in love when words are superfluous and only moments matter. Rowan has a gift for catching these moments in such sweet, honest words that she dances right around cliché without ever giving it a second glance.

Frozen In Time is a gorgeous musical moment, a piece of quiet contemplation focused once again on love lost. Rowan saves her most poetic work for this song, married to a plodding yet hopeful arrangement filled with vocal harmonies that grow out of the song like flowers in the middle of a field that's coming to life after a long winter. Anyway is an exploration of best intentions and where they sometimes get us. This one features Rowan and piano and sounds like it could be a transitional piece from a Broadway show, full of the heartfelt and fragile emotion that makes for great theater. Why Don't You is an age old question about why the look of love sometimes cools with time. Rowan and her guitar make a powerful statement while looking to rekindle the energy of youth. Rowan closes out with Your Hands, a memoriam in song for a love who was taken suddenly. It's a gorgeous song full of real emotion. Aside from the emotional gravitas, Your Hands sounds like the sort of theme song you could build a movie around it. Don't be surprised if someone does.

Carrie Rowan writes honest songs, delivered with candor and a sweet touch. She is a breath of fresh air in a marketplace over-crowded with folks looking for just the right sound at the expense of songwriting. Almost Home will run a little slow for some, but it's like listening to a good friend pour her heart out in music. By the end you're invested in her stories and you just want her to keep going. Carrie Rowan may not be flashy, but Almost Home is like comfort food for the musical soul. You'll keep coming back.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Carrie Rowan at or You can purchase Almost Home at, or you can download tracks on Rowan’s website. Carrie Rowan donates a portion of the proceeds from each CD sold to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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