Frontiers Records [Release date 07.08.20]
Black Rose Maze is Quebecois singer, Rosa Larichiutta. She comes to us via a major Canadian song contest, by way of The Trans Siberian Orchestra. So if you’re immediately imagining rock opera, and you’d be close.
Frontier’s house producer, Alessandro Del Vecchio has a reputation for adopting a one size fits all production style. But here, his icily efficient arrangements, subtracting and adding elements as each song goes past, works very effectively. He has a good ear for fine textural detail.
Explosive opener, ‘In The Dark’ and the rather special ‘Only You’ are full of torqued up guitars, taut, wiry, purposeful, creating edgy melodic hard rock that snarls and clangs before reaching an upward gearshift into a piercing chorus.
It often sounds like Symphonic rock, but shorn of any hint of bombast, with all ballast jettisoned at the studio entrance. And you might like Larichiutta’s lack of ambition to sound new or different. She just wants to sound like a singer with a stunning voice who has something to say.
Dramatic, driving guitars and vaguely unusual song structures follow. On the moodily introspective ‘Let Me Be Me’, you can tell that Rosa’s been absorbing the dynamic vocals of fellow Canadians Ann Wilson and Lee Aaron. And on ‘Free’, a bluesy rock song with only a few metal embellishments, she switches from Rock diva to Nashville cat, undercutting the metal with sweet, soothing country pop artistry.
As you move through the album, you can’t help but notice that the surface of eack song is pockmarked by the scars of heartbreak and disappointment. She sometimes sings like a broken person trying to repel the outside world, or rather someone who’s rebuilt herself, and who is growing stronger by the hour.
The triumphant ‘Look At Me Now’ and ‘You Can’t Stop Me’ are all the proof we need. ***1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
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