WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 2009 |
It's worth noting that Blue Roses is perfectly named, though that's not necessarily a good thing. Laura Groves' silky voice and melancholy music is the sound of blue flowers, perhaps lying on a lacy tablecloth, wrapped in a velvet ribbon. Maybe it's even raining outside. It's softly pretty and melodramatic, it's a perfect embodiment of tungsten-toned moods and wistful moments...but it's also somewhat clich, a stock image on a postcard, instantly familiar.
Before you even listen to this, you know what to expect from it. This is Joanna Newsom made accessible, this is Lavender Diamond having a sad day, this is a lighthouse in the fog, an ornate cup of tea on a windowsill. It touches on countless tragic tropes, but it never fails to be touching.
Although Groves is going for a very particular aesthetic, she carries it out extremely well. A one-woman project from rainy Yorkshire, Blue Roses is deeply personal, full of secret moments, whispered guitars and folky violins. The romantic harmonies and warm arpeggios on "Cover Your Tracks" carry the definite influence of Debussy-style classical composers. "Can't Sleep," and "I Wish I..." are quietly powerful, to be kept in pocket-sized jewelry boxes, to be taken out during heavy-lidded late night moments.
Groves sings about quiet towns, driving all night, dreams of flying away, hope and loneliness. Her lilting voice is enchanting and her music is lovely, but sometimes stumbles into the realm of the cloyingly sweet. Depending on your current capacity to be moved by greeting cards (and don't be ashamed, they're professionals, even Joseph Gordon-Levitt is guilty), this had the potential to be a rainy day treasure or just another shrinking violet. - Nina Mashurova