Review: Chelle Rose – Ghost of Browder Holler (Lil’ Damsel, 2012)
More than a decade after her 2000 debut, Nanahally River, singer-songwriter Chelle Rose delivers a sophomore set of gritty country blues and rock. The raw power of her voice brings to mind the early recordings of Lissie, but with a swampy backwoods feel that brings to mind Lucinda Williams, Bobbie Gentry and Holly Golightly. Rose is a child of Appalachia and the Smoky Mountains, but her music is touched more by blues than bluegrass. Her songs are rooted in the rural experience of mountain men, snakes in the road (both literal and figurative), impending doom and haunting memories of untimely death. She adds husk to the addictive desire of Julie Miller’s “I Need You” and tears her ex- a new one as she reestablishes her music career in “Alimony.” Of the latter she’s said “I tried to quit music, but it just wouldn’t quit me.” The album closes with Elizabeth Cook adding a harmony vocal an acoustic song of a mother’s loss and faith, “Wild Violets Pretty.” The last really shows how deeply Rose is willing (and able) to dig into herself for a lyric. Producer Ray Wylie Hubbard provides support with dripping gothic blues, rowdy country rock, atmospheric folk and Memphis soul, a mélange that Rose calls “Appalachian rock ‘n’ roll.” After hearing her out, you’re not likely to argue.