Canadian born singer/songwriter Stephanie Rose looks to expand on the success of her debut EP Go Where the Wind Takes You with another EP named Sprout. She’s played numerous live gigs since her first EP, including a standing room only performance at the Professional Bull Riding circuit in Nipawin, Saskatchewan and an appearance at the Songwriters Café during the Saskatchewan Country Music Association awards weekend. Her songwriting is extraordinarily human – Rose, thankfully, isn’t content rehashing familiar tales of young love or countless other genre clichés and, when she does touch on familiar themes, manages to do so with insight and an individual turn of phrase. She has some important collaborators enlisted in the effort – Clay Krasner and RyLee Madison are esteemed talents in the indie country scene and frame the EP’s half dozen tracks in the best possible light.
Everything is so well defined, rendered with such warmth. The opener and title song practically leaps out of your speakers thanks, in no small part, to production that assigns each instrument a clear place in the mix yet ties everything together in a coherent and dramatic way. You can’t help but admire, if not love, a young country performer rambunctious enough to bring brass into her songs and it works. The playful bounce of the song is notable, but a closer listen to the lyrics finds Rose wrestling with adult concerns in an imaginative and inspired way. The next indisputable high point comes with the number “Luxury”. This gives Rose the chance to show off her dramatic vocal skills on this EP and she lives this lyric out for listeners capturing every emotional high and low with taste and unerring instincts. It is a duet of sorts thanks to the inclusion of violin playing off against her voice and it makes the tune all the more memorable.
(EP) I-TUNES: itunes.apple.com/ca/album/sprout-ep/1436694108
The fourth song “Old Soul” highlights one of the marquee aspects of Rose’s talent – she plucks her poetry from every day conversation, in some ways, and they are coupled with observations that might sound stilted in clumsier, less skillful hands. It’s a personal song, for sure, and you can how close it is to Rose, but the listening experience is never oppressive. “Crushed” is the EP’s marquee nod towards Rose’s rock influences and she expertly blends them with the country in her soul without ever favoring a particular slant over the other. It has a rousing onrush once the full band kicks in, but Rose continues alternating its more hard hitting sections with the quieter moments. It enriches the song.
(Single) CD BABY: store.cdbaby.com/cd/stephanierose5
Rose ends Sprout with the track “Same Old Same Old”, a straight forward acoustic based number forsaking any loud flourishes or bold choruses. The chorus, however, is one of the album’s best and you’ll likely find yourself singing it long after the song ends – it sticks in the memory without ever seeming too affected or put on. Everything about this EP release is authentic – even when Stephanie Rose is reaching in a commercial direction, you never hear premeditation or pandering in these songs. Sprout, instead, is a small but durable collection you can listen to again and again.