Esther Rose is a singer-songwriter whose sound, despite being steeped in classic country, is very much her own. It has earned her a spot opening for Nick Lowe as well as being asked to sing on Jack White’s latest album.
Her new solo album How Many Times was written over the course of two years that included three moves and the end of a relationship. As with a lot of great art, this was born of struggle and a host of feelings. Of the album, she said, “It’s not really about feeling better, it’s about feeling it, whatever it is.” She’s not the only one that feels these songs. She pours out her heart so the listener feels the songs too.
The first thing you notice in the title track is that her vocals are similar in delivery and tone to Jade Jackson. Another thing you notice is the ache in her voice. It’s not just in lines like, “How many times will you break my heart”, but also in lines like “Why is it so hard to make a good thing last?” She sings all these lines over a song that is decidedly modern but with roots in classic country in the sound of the fiddle.
A big part of the album is the picture Rose creates of missing someone. In “My Bad Mood”, she sings about longing for someone who is dancing and finding new love while she is left alone with her tiresome bad mood. She paints such a vivid picture that it seems like you’re watching a scene in a movie.
“Coyote Creek” is a bit of a change-up from the rest of the songs and not just because in this song she sings, “I’m right back in your arms. It’s right where I belong.” No, the real difference in this song is that the pedal steel lends a California desert sort of sound to the song.
Like Jade Jackson, Rose makes modern country music. That being said, her voice can evoke just as much emotion as any of your favorite classic-country songs. That’s the real power of her music – her voice. The band does a great job of providing both lonesome (“When You Go”) and dance-worthy (“Good Time”) melodies, but you would be able to hear the emotion in these songs even if you heard them a capella.
This album shows Rose’s ability both as a singer and a songwriter. She not only has a way with words, but also a way of delivering them for maximum impact on the listener. Another thing about this album is that it could fit the bill whether you want to dance or just sit and drink by yourself.