Alexa Rose, an Appalachian graduate, has paid homage to her roots to deliver her debut album ‘Medicine For Living’. Rose stands strong amongst her musical contemporaries in delivering an album of old meets new, united with an honest account of human sorrow. The title track, which won Rose the acclaimed songwriting competition at Merlefest in 2019, holds its own but there is so much more worthy of mention.
The opening track ‘Borrow Your Heart’, invites us in as Rose sings solo, later enriched with Will Sextons swelling guitars and the warm backdrop of organists Rick Steff and Al Gamble. Here we learn of Roses writing strength as we hear that hooky line of the chorus “Can I borrow your heart, I think I lost my own”. Perhaps not so far from pop sensibilities, we are reminded of where we are at when the accompanying vocals lay flat and bare, exuding more honesty than many pop tracks can bare to bring.
‘Like A Child’ unfastens the album, bringing with it a sense of optimism, perhaps caught in more jovial times which lends nicely to the lyrics – “There’s someone out there with a book of matches, and I’m a child with a finger to burn, and when we’re finished sweeping up these ashes, someday it’s gonna be our turn”.
Rose’s vocal melody flows sweetly through the chord changes on ‘The Leaving Kind’, the snare keeps it driving whilst the textured playing of the pedal steel and keys make for great accompaniment to this sad tale. As an example of old meets new, the traditional train beat is broken up with a tasty time change that feels integral and right.
For those that enjoy a little nostalgia, ‘Fine Tooth Comb’ is the place to be. Serving well to traditional form, the lyrics make for a nice turn around on the title line, keeping things light and entertaining.
Throughout the album you get a sense that the lyrics come easy for Rose which one would only hope will provide more time for this young songwriters future. Escaping generalities and stale clichés, we also receive great insight into Rose’s rural upbringings which collaborate well to give the album clear direction and identity. With many accolades to her name including Rolling Stone dropping her single as one of the top 10 Country and Americana tracks to hear right now, this mountain dweller shows great promise for things to come, kindly reminding us, that love is, ‘Medicine For Living’.