Esther Rose is a New Orleans singer-songwriter with a penchant for crafting tender, harmony-laden folk songs. Her third LP, How Many Times, officially out last month on Father/Daughter Records, is the result of a pre-pandemic life stretch that saw Rose constantly on the move. The simultaneous highs and lows of non-stop touring, the emotional wreckage of fleeting love, the magic of collaborating with new people in new places – it’s all there, packaged in a 10-track suite of cathartic singalongs and honky-tonk heartbreakers that sway, swoon, and shuffle with an infectious free-spiritedness.
As for the music, Rose’s band is a good one. Comprised of various NOLA musicians, her supporting cast is air-tight and always plays in service of the song. Heavy doses of fiddle, pedal steel, and roosty acoustics assure there is more than enough twang to go around, helping shape the record’s many moods with mellow country-folk arrangements while being steady enough to support the pop-friendly hooks and song structures. Tracks like “Keep Me Running” and “Good Time” showcase the band’s aptitude in the school of lively Americana, while “My Bad Mood” and the Dolly Parton-esque “Without You” spotlight their knack for nailing for softer, more traditional country sounds.
When it comes to her lyrics, Rose doesn’t waste a bar. Her highly descriptive writing reckons with her desires, fears, and ambitions in a forthright way, leaving no soul unchecked and no stone unturned in her quest to heal from her past traumas and keep her feet moving. That lyrical specificity bolsters songs like “How Many Times,” “Songs Remain,” and “Are You Out There” with great imagery and emotional depth that prove effective over the sweet soundscapes. The icing on the cake is Rose’s delicate voice and effortless ear for melody, two of the key components that make How Many Times a surefire winner.