‘My Desert Island Album,’ By FENDAHLENE’S Ashley Hurst

WHEN I was contacted to contribute my thoughts about my ‘Desert Island Album,’ the first thought was, “why can I only take one?” Of course, one would not likely be travelling with half their record collection when disaster struck.

What album would I have on me in such situations? My current ‘can’t get it out of my head’ album, of course. For me right now, that is ‘Grow,’ the second album by New York-based artist (and fellow bass player) Rose Alaimo.

There is something quite special when you listen to an album and it actually ‘feels like an album.’ So many today come across as collections of songs, of which there’s nothing really wrong, I mean great songs on their own can make a great album. However, there can be something missing from such collections. That feeling you’re being taken on a great journey where everything, from the song order to the lyrics to the arrangements, makes sense in both the moment itself and as part of a greater whole.

Rose has posted to YouTube ten videos in which she conveys her rationale behind each song. As tempting as it was to dive in, after watching the first one I intentionally avoided the rest so I could think about writing about my new favourite album from my listener perspective.

In short, ‘Grow’ is everything I’ve ever loved about albums. Ten amazing songs that stand on their own, whilst at once feeling like ten acts of the same play. ‘Grow’ is incredibly relatable, too. Like in a “we’ve all been there” sort of way. And after the wonderfully melodic, laid-back approach to her debut album ‘The Importance of Centers,’ ‘Grow ‘rocks like there’s no tomorrow. You can definitely hear her rock bass pedigree coming to the fore.

‘Grow’ leads off with Elevate, the first of several intriguing song titles on the album. From the crashing drum intro, you already can sense Rose turning up the power. What follows is crunching guitars, then… silence, before Rose’s vocals take over. I’m taken by this passage: “This is when I went astray. This is how I lost my way. How can I be present in this world?” It really hits me, then suddenly, towards the end of the song a change in outlook: “It’s gonna be a pretty day.” This emotive swing sets up the album to come.

After quite literally being elevated, the next track, Frozen, keeps me there. Lovely vocals with an amazing call and response lead and backing vocals in the verses. Then: “You are more than this…” on repeat suddenly sends a shiver down my spine. Not sure how I am feeling now. The next track, The Lines, brings the rock back big time, and the journey changes again. A highlight lyric is, “Won’t someone wake me?” No thank you, I’m totally on the journey now. If I ever chose to hit the mosh pits back in the day, it would have been to the cracking solo to this song. 

The next track, Smoke, levels things out a bit, reckon this would be the perfect driving song. Election Song follows, with quite the beginning: “Did you see the people dancing on the streets on my city?” This has such an infectious chorus. After what felt part elation part relief, Yellow Balloons, is a somewhat eerie song that runs right through you. Starts with haunting guitars then the vocals do the rest. There’s also a menacing tom beat and matching baseline. I’m so tense now I could easily be listening to incidental music from a thriller. The outro leads into the next track Mermaids, which brings things back down to earth. Crunching guitars that lead into the chorus. Even amongst a bunch of highly introspective songs, this one seems even more personal. The lyric, “Sometimes I jump into the sea” evokes different thoughts every time I listen to it.

The next track, No Resolution, rocks like crazy, this would be epic live, especially with lots of little breakdowns dispersed throughout with a call and response on guitars this time. The title track follows and it’s just a great song. The lead ins to the choruses and the choruses themselves, in particular. This leads to the end of the album, to a song called The Angry Sea. Beautiful introduction, awesome vocals, powerful solo, and a breakdown that can best be described as ‘acoustic space rock,’ if that’s a thing.

Grow is such a rollercoaster ride, and it sounds a bit different every time you put it on, it moves with you and with your emotions at the time. Can totally imagine this marooned on a desert island. When it comes down to it, this is just a great rock and roll album. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Any criticism? Only that I can’t (yet) get this on vinyl. It would sound smashing on vinyl.

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