Singer-songwriter Caroline Rose has traded in the rootsy Americana of her first full-length (2014’s I Will Not Be Afraid) for a more polished, pop-influenced sound on her brand-new second album, Loner. The end result is the first great album of 2018.
Loner‘s album art — which features Rose in Adidas workout gear, cartoonishly attempting to light a pack’s worth of cigarettes that have been jammed into her mouth, complete with deadpan stare off into the distance — hints at the key to the record’s success. Rose seems to be having more fun this time around.
Lead single “Money” is a rockabilly romp that suggests the marriage of April March’s “Chick Habit” to Southern Culture on the Skids’ “Camel Walk.” “Soul No. 5” is irresistible power-pop buoyed by a Kreayshawn-adjacent sing-song rap, mocking a would-be player who prefers to “hit ’em and quit ’em,” but still claims to have “soul.”
Rose’s lyrics are endlessly clever, but like the best smart-ass singer-songwriters (Warren Zevon and Randy Newman come to mind), she knows when to let down her guard and let her soft side shine through. Introspective numbers like “Getting to Me” and “Talk” are confessional but plainspoken; Rose allows her lilting vocal melodies to provide exquisite ornamentation for these clear-eyed slices of life. Songs like “Cry!” and the go-go dance-y double-header “Smile!”/”Bikini” touch upon the glass-ceiling expectations that society places upon young women; the former song has a heart-on-its-sleeve honesty carried over from Rose’s first album while the latter duo is grotesque, horrific, and darkly funny.
Loner is smart, catchy, eclectic, and two tons of fun. Check it out now!
In addition to her musical talents, Caroline Rose is also a sharp and funny filmmaker. Check out her video for “Soul No. 5”:
Horatio Baltz directed a pretty great video for “Money” too:
Caroline Rose’s Loner is available now.
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Justin Remer makes movies, directs music videos, and plays in the bands Duck the Piano Wire and Elastic No-No Band when he is not writing movie reviews. His folk-rock documentary MAKING LOVERS & DOLLARS is currently streaming on Amazon.