From the first catchy and confident strums of “Stay,” the opening track of Esther Rose’s fourth album, Safe To Run, we know we’re along for the ride with a perpetually-evolving seeker and intriguing storyteller. Vividly detailed emotional scenes captivatingly unfurl and transcend would-be turmoil with a quiet pop infusion as Rose lilts above. The stories and style are shaped formidably by Rose’s transition from place to place, most notably from her musical origin of New Orleans to somewhere down an undoubtedly dusty trail in New Mexico where she spent two years crafting the stories that have become Safe To Run.
Combining this experience with a couple of songwriting prohibitions like never recycling a chord progression or falling victim to the pull of the heartbreak song, Rose leaves herself ample room to explore beyond what’s been said, leaving a vast array of concerns and sharp observations to parse out. In title track, “Safe To Run,” a duet with Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra, Rose fearlessly examines her vulnerabilities alongside the universal concern of climate peril with an almost light-hearted beauty. Later on, Rose confronts sexism in the music industry in the bouncing “Dream Girl” and like elsewhere throughout the album, the story is anything but a sob.
The music itself benefits from Rose’s collaboration in the studio with long-time partner Lyle Werner who lends his forlorn fiddle, and former co-producer of 2021’s How Many Times turned full-time here Ross Farbe introduces subtle synth creating a layer of atmospheric essence. Rose also invites New Orleans group Silver Synthetic to back her up on occasion resulting in a record thriving with texture.
Esther Rose is being heard by listeners of Lightning 100, The SoCal Sound, Radio Milwaukee, WMOT, WNRN and many more, and you can catch Esther Rose this week at the JBE Triple A SummitFest.