Reviews

Review: Baby Rose’s Singular Voice Makes ‘To Myself’ One of This Year’s Best Soul Albums

"A sprinkle of Billie Holiday here, a dash of Nina Simone there, maybe even a pinch of Amy Winehouse as well"

I’ve seen the name Baby Rose pop up quite a few times this year across different projects. Early on in the year, she made a guest appearance on Yung Baby Tate’s song “Lover Girl” off her album Girls; she featured on Big K.R.I.T.’s latest album on the song “Everytime”; and of course, you may have heard her on Dreamville Record’s recent collaborative album Revenge of the Dreamers III if you listened to the song “Self Love.”

One of the things about this Atlanta singer that instantly captured my attention on these features, and even more so upon delving into her debut solo effort To Myself, is the singularity of her voice. It is a trait that I found both mystifying and enthralling.

On the one hand, the distinctiveness of her voice can be a bit jolting at first; for someone who is only in their mid-twenties, I wouldn’t have immediately associated an artist like her with such a powerful voice that has so much maturity and soul in it. (That was my mistake: judging a book by its cover.) It’s hard to nail down where, if anywhere, I’d ever heard a voice like this before. Sure, you can hear bits and pieces of other artists — a sprinkle of Billie Holiday here, a dash of Nina Simone there, maybe even a pinch of Amy Winehouse as well — but it’s hard to find another artist, old-school or contemporary, that has replicated or originated that sound specifically.

On the other hand, this uniqueness — this one-of-a-kind-ness — is PRECISELY what makes listening to her so enjoyable and so refreshing. She doesn’t sound like anyone I’ve ever heard, and in a saturated music world where everyone is, at least on some level, competing with each other to make their voice heard, hers stands out so effortlessly and so definitively.

The soulfulness of her voice lends itself to her ability to make listeners really empathize and feel the emotions that fuel this project, which is mostly inspired by a breakup. So on “All to Myself,” when she opens with “It’s 3 a.m. and I’m alone in this apartment / thinking about my dearly departed heart,” it really hits you, and the listener can’t help but really feel these same painful memories that Rose is reminiscing on.

Of course, her vocals aren’t doing all of the heavy lifting; this album is aided by its beautiful songwriting and gorgeous production. From cinematic to psychedelic to somber, these instrumentals provide the perfect backdrop for Rose to wax poetic about the heartache, uncertainty, and “Ragrets” that follow the dissolution of a relationship.

To Myself is as good a debut as any I’ve heard in a long time. Give it a listen below.

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