Rosie Flores – Speed Of Sound

Speed Of Sound

With her seventh solo release – having tried Bakersfield country, rockabilly bop, L.A. troubador, and even cowpunk – Rosie Flores has finally found an identity that was always there; the extraneous trappings just had to be peeled away. And at this point in her career, Flores shows a degree of confidence and maturity to match her formidable vocal and guitar gifts.

Rosie co-produced the CD with guitarist Rick Vito (formerly with Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, and Fleetwood Mac, to name a few), and the marriage is perfect. Also onboard are such session luminaries as drummers Ian Wallace and Jeff Donovan, lapsteeler Greg Leisz, and pianist Justin Reinhardt, who complement – rather than bury – their leader.

Some of the tunes are pure fun – Johnny Cash’s “Country Boy” give artist and producer a chance to trade leads, with Rosie on acoustic and Rick on electric, and Buck Owens’ “Hot Dog” is a veritable tour de force of Flores’ rockabilly licks – while others show a melodic, jazzier side of Flores, to good advantage. “Somebody’s Someone” is a coy, swingy original, with Vito playing Django to violinist Tammy Rogers’ Grappelli, and on “Devil Love” his dancing metallic acoustic ornamentation adds more Gypsy flavor. Rick’s fat, “Like a Rock” slide tone shows up on the Bo Diddleyesque “Don’t Take It Away,” while Leisz’s lap steel adds a lonesome, spooky atmosphere to the title tune. Rosie adds some twangy guitar to this, the album’s most ambitious composition and successful performance, co-written by Flores and Rachel Gladstone.

Hopefully Flores and Vito will continue to work together (and hopefully with this aggregation backing), because there’s obviously tons of potential here. This is Rosie’s best to date, but the next might prove even better. And the one after that.

This review originally appeared in VG‘s Sep. ’01 issue.

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