Esther Rose - How Many Times Music Album Reviews

Esther Rose - How Many Times Music Album Reviews
The New Orleans country singer’s heartsick, headstrong third album chronicles the fallout of bad breakup with sly humor and empathy.

Alongside its rich history of R&B, jazz, and second line parades, New Orleans is also a bustling hub for country music. The city has had one of the more interesting scenes of the 2010s, a hodgepodge community comprising artists like Sundown Songs, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and the Deslondes, who ground their twang in old-school rock and soul formats. Originally from Columbiaville, Michigan, Esther Rose has been bouncing around the city for more than a decade, first writing and singing with then-husband Luke Winslow-King before striking out on her own. Her albums typify New Orleans country, right down to her high-flying vocal delivery. If her vocals bear strong similarities to those of Riff Raff’s Alynda Lee Segarra, it’s not because either singer is copying the other; it’s because they’re both drawing from the same well.

Rose lets those influences settle a bit more on her heartsick, headstrong third album, How Many Times, which chronicles the fallout of a hard breakup. Her songs revel in subtle rhythms, especially on the thrumming “Keeps Me Running,” and she even channels Fats Domino on the gently rolling “Are You Out There.” Those elements keep these songs anchored to her city, although she moves through it differently than she once did. She’s more closed off, her armor up. “Walking through the Quarter with my hood pulled up/Don’t you stand beside me, boys, I got bad luck,” she sings on the title track, conveying a local’s frustration with the city’s most popular tourist attraction.

There’s a strong sense of place on How Many Times, but even if you’ve never set foot in Louisiana, Rose’s stories still resonate. She’s always had a flair for details, the moments other writers ignore, and she retains a sly sense of humor even in heartbreak. She ends the pained title track with near-ecstatic “Sha la la”s, as though turning her pain into a pop punchline. On “When You Go,” she tells a straying lover, “I think I might just let you go,” immediately following it with: “Can I come with you?” You might chuckle at the turnaround if her fear and desperation weren’t palpable.

If How Many Times is a breakup record, then “Songs Remain” is its denouement. Rather than recrimination and blame, Rose offers a more measured appreciation of their time together, recalling the specifics of the relationship in evocative detail—early mornings of “black coffee and bacon fat,” for instance—and bids her “inner city lumberjack” a sad farewell: “I am glad it was you who broke my heart.” Rarely do breakup songs sound so genuinely generous and tender. How Many Times necessarily loses some of its steam after that song, and how could it not? “Songs Remain” is the heart of this album as well as one of the finest moments in Rose’s catalog so far, showing how heartache can change how you experience a city and how music can keep you running.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Esther Rose - How Many Times Music Album Reviews Esther Rose - How Many Times Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, April 08, 2021 Rating: 5

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