Absinthe Rose is a Boston-based folk-punk band. This is immediately apparent when the acoustic guitar kicks in and Kimbo Rose’s twangy voice comes through the speakers. Even though Rose came from Oregon in 2009, she quickly picked up an accent that comes through on several of the songs.
Now, I did not enjoy listening to this album. I turned it on with zero preconceptions, but as the tracks played, I knew I was not enjoying myself. It’s not that I don’t like country music, folk music or Celtic-pop music in general, this music just did not offer me anything.
Absinthe Rose is mostly known on the East Coast, but Black Earth is their third album since their formation in 2010. I haven’t listened to the previous albums, and after my experience with Black Earth, I don’t plan on it.
I have to give credit to the musicians, who have talent. The guitars, drums, bass and banjo are all played very well. My problem comes when I have the vocals and the full mix put together.
Kimbo Rose’s vocals are gritty and grimy, this is her style (that is not what I am blaming). It is the way she deviates and takes liberties with her vocals. Throughout several of the songs, my main focus being “Roots of Anarcho,” she overuses vibrato and therefore distracts from the instruments and even the lyrics that are being sung.
As for the full mix, it sounded like mud was clogging my speakers. I could hardly pick the guitars, bass and banjo apart since they were all at the same volume. And, although this may have been by choice, the vocals sounded like they were coming from a tin can. This “style” does give the album a more gritty feeling, but it also sounds like it could have been recorded in a garage instead of a studio.
I devoted 43 minutes of my life to this album and the only part I actually enjoyed was the time I spent looking for a gif to explain my feelings. I couldn’t decide between
Along with the instrumental work, I should give some credit to the lyrics. They are a strong representation for a feminist and political view that is not uncommon in today’s punk music. I think I would have loved the lyrics and been much more willing to listen to them if they hadn’t been soaked in vibrato and a garbled mess that is being called Boston Folk-Pop.
Songs to remember: Little Folk Sista
Songs to forget: (I would say most of them, but I picked my least favorites) Roots of Anarcho, Trouble
Images from Planetary Group, Alicefiancet and Tumbler