“Trouble Holding Back” – Helen Rose

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A few words about MusicRiot before we get underway. You won’t find any negative reviews here. There’s way too much negativity everywhere around us; why add to that? We pick music that we like, live or recorded and we tell you about it; nice and simple. Well, it is most of the time, until you bump up against an album like “Trouble Holding Back”. It’s Helen Rose’s debut album, it’s a labour of love and she’s poured a lot of herself into it. Which brings us back to negativity and how we try to avoid it.

There are some truly outstanding songs on this album but (and here’s my subjectivity cop-out kicking in) there are a couple that I just don’t get. I’m not dwelling on them, but I can’t see the need for another cover of “When the Levee Breaks” and the title track, to my ears, is an over-cooked glam rock stomper. So let’s look at the positives.

The album’s second song “Flatlands of North Dakota” is a little classic, combining echoes of Bobbie Gentry with sweeping string arrangements and a nod in the direction of Roy Budd’s “Get Carter” theme. Match that up with a message about mothers doing what they have to do to bring up a family and you have a great song. “Mississippi Moon” is subtle, lush and atmospheric with a tasteful close-miked sax solo and not too many frills and “Oh Glory Be” is a full-on rock ‘n’ soul production with a horn section and a call and response gospel refrain. And let’s not forget the beautiful stripped-back version of Steve Earle’s powerful indictment of strip-mining, “The Mountain”. There’s more than enough good material here to make this well worth listening to.

“Trouble Holding Back” is released on Friday January 25th 2019 on Monkey Room Music (MRM 0008).