Just when you think you’ve seen every kind of musical personality under the sun, Caroline Rose comes along with something unexpectedly fresh. Her new album Loner demonstrates a keen talent for crafting sharp pop-rock hooks, getting an engaging sound from a simple four-piece format, and telling witty, relatable stories. “Soul No. 5,” a playful tweak to pampered hollaback girls, moves along pleasantly enough when the pre-chorus shifts gears, revving up a giddy roller-rink organ for an exhilarating chorus: “I GOT SOUL!!!”
Much has been made of Rose’s sense of humor — just take a look at that album cover! — but Loner is no simple yuk-fest, as “Getting To Me” illustrates. That said, Rose does have the comedian’s skill for narrating in a few words a world of detailed characters who are sympathetic, even vulnerable, in their day-to-day efforts. I also confess to being totally hooked on Rose’s voice, an excitable squeak that offers a millennial update on icons like Lesley Gore, Rachel Sweet, and Kathleen Hanna. You heard it here first: a rock’n’roll heart beats strongly in Loner, one of the new year’s best albums.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.