Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Chelle Rose was working as an accountant in her 20s when she got a guitar and realized that music was her true calling. Maybe that story resonates with me more since I am an accountant by trade but well past my 20s. I love hearing about people giving up a conventional life and career to follow their dreams and passion. Rose is doing that, and is an inspiration to us all. She also has the talent to back it up. Blue Ridge Blood is everything country music should be. Soulful, unpolished, and slightly rough around the edges. This is by no means a slight. It is the highest praise for a musician that has the ability to put it all out there. It isn’t always pretty, but she is willing to reveal everything, warts and all.
Comparisons to 1990’s era Lucinda Williams are undeniable. Rose is not a copy or a tribute artist, rather she had the ability to fuse Williams gritty singing and writing style into her own. It is catchy and a great listen from start to finish. Not Your Girl (Track 4) exemplifies this homage to Williams. First of all, the song is about relationship trouble, one of William’s favorite topics to write about in the 90s.
“I watched you pull out of the driveway,
I watched you pull out of my heart,
You wear my shiver you wear my perfume,
You even wear my daddy’s shirt,
I drew your crown around my rose,
I drew your breath like winter cold,
But I am not your girl.”
If that doesn’t capture the raw emotion of a breakup a la Lucinda Williams, I don’t know what does. The songs on Blue Ridge Blood are immensly beautiful and sad at the same time. The songs are performed with such beauty and realism that they can make you smile and cry simultaneously. They are cathartic. The $15 spent on this CD is cheaper than a therapist but every bit as effective at purging life’s painful memories.
Rose has tremendous courage and moxie as well. Mean Granpappy (Track 7) is about Rose’s grandfather who was cruel and abusive. To write such a detailed and uncomplimentary song about a close family member is terribly difficult and takes some large stones. Rose has got ’em:
“I went home to knoxville when they laid him down,
Right where he belonged in cold hard ground,
Not a tear in the eye of any of his kin,
Randy’s gone home to satan’s den.
Grandpappy rose was a mean some bitch,
Beat ya with his words didn’t need no switch,
Sittin on the front porch a’yellin at my granny,
Better spit n shine ever’ damn nook n cranny.”
If you weren’t sure if I was going to give Blue Ridge Blood an endorsement, you haven’t been paying attention. This gets a lot of high praise by me and I encourage you to get this on Amazon. Also go to Chelle’s website and look around.