Live at Brudenell Social Club on Thursday, 8th September 2011
Daughter of Taylor Swift's chief songwriter Rose certainly has country pedigree in her genes, so it comes as little surprise that on the back of her much-lauded debut album she is being touted as the most exciting prospect to emerge out of Nashville in years, no small praise given the city's musical lineage. In performance, she is a captivating mix of goofy teen ingenue and steely, hard drinking pro oozing a confidence and self-possession that belie her tender years. Each song comes with a charming, rambling introduction, the humour of which often seems to mask a vulnerability alluded to in her lyrics, but she also possesses an equally good facility with a cutting putdown, as discovered by the unfortunate audience member who mistakenly requests Tom Petty's Learnin' To Fly rather than her own Learnin' To Ride. After a delay caused by a guitar malfunction gives rise to an impromptu introduction of her band, during which she likens her bass player to a 70s porn star, you realise that Rose is the kind of artist who understands that a gig is as much about creating a connection with the crowd as it is about playing a batch of songs - a trait that seems to becoming rarer and rarer amongst today's musicians.
But that's not to say that the songs themselves aren't anything other than brilliantly sumptuous modern distillations of the traditional country songbook. Own Side, a melancholy meditation on the emptiness of one night stands that 'gets real at the end', is beautifully bruised; For The Rabbits, which, as she explains, is about people not rabbits, transforms from a tender lilt into a rousing singalong replete with restrained guitar pyrotechnics; whilst Shangai Cigarettes, a nicotine-drenched story of addiction and enforced abstinence, has a breezy honky tonk quality. Ultimately though, as adept as she evidently is with a tune, it is her effortlessly stunning voice that is at turns wounded, keening and crystalline, that elevates her above the merely good. Really the only disappointing note of the night arrives with the final chord of the encore when you realise the gig is over, leaving the crowd baying for more but you get the distinct feeling that we will be hearing from Rose for many years to come.