We should all count our lucky stars that Lucy Rose’s third studio album Something’s Changing has arrived. Following the modest critical and commercial reception that the London based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s first two Columbia Records supported LPs garnered, Rose found herself caught in the grips of a professional identity crisis.
“I don’t think I’d ever quit music,” she explained to Q magazine recently. “I knew wherever I lived that I’d do gigs in pubs. If I ever had kids, I would want to teach them. It will always be part of my everyday life. But it was whether I wanted to keep putting myself out there and feeling like no one wanted it.”
Thankfully, despite her insecurities about how the future of her musical career might play out, Rose has put herself out there, and then some. With Columbia in her rearview (their loss, mind you) and presumably the weight of expectation—both self-imposed and imposed-upon—somewhat diminished, she has found a new home with the independent label Communion Records. And she has just released the finest song suite of her still very much in-the-ascendant career to date.
Produced by Tim Bidwell, Something’s Changing’s eleven compositions sound like the album that Rose always wanted to craft, but was too stifled to ever fully explore. Although both excellent in their own right, her first two albums—2012’s Like I Used To and 2015’s Work It Out—at times sound as if they were calculated attempts to seduce radio and mass audiences. Something’s Changing, on the other hand, feels considerably more natural, with a profoundly more palpable intimacy and earnestness unencumbered by corporate visions of airplay and chart compatibility. In other words, and to cut right to the crux of matters, Rose’s third is one of the year’s most indispensable recordings and a surefire contender for album-of-the-year accolades.
From the opening moments of the brief and sparse intro that begins with Rose’s refrain that “it’s just a song” wrapped within her crystalline and comforting falsetto, it’s evident that this is not just another dime-a-dozen, singer-songwriter ego trip of an album. Much to the contrary, the ten songs that follow are far more than just songs and instead coalesce to present an artist striving toward the height of her creative powers, while preserving her integrity and sense of self-awareness.
The proper album opener, “Is This Called Home” unfurls as a soaring, strings-laden torch song that concludes with Rose’s repeated request of “Let me hold your hand.” It’s a direct and unadorned articulation of affection later echoed on the album’s irresistible, piano-driven standout track “No Good At All,” which contains the heartwarming chorus: “Hey baby, won't you let me come / And kiss you all night long, all night long / But don't worry, I won't tell nobody / That you are the one until dawn.”
Mirroring the vicissitudes of her career trajectory thus far, the theme of liberation figures prominently within a handful of the album’s finest moments. “Second Chance” is a percussive anthem of self-empowerment, with Rose confiding, “I feel like this is the first day / of a brand new life in which I'm thirsty for / An honest life where I can love myself / For who I am, who I am.” A convincing ode to freedom and adventure, “Strangest of Ways” finds Rose yearning to “live in the wild tonight,” while the acoustic lead single “Floral Dresses”—which features spine-tingling harmonies courtesy of the sisterly trio The Staves—is her defiant rejection of familial pressures to embrace antiquated gender conventions.
One of the album’s greatest strengths lies in the purity of Rose’s ever-evolving songwriting, which effectively juxtaposes melancholic moments with more sanguine fare. A reference to the trio of mythical Greek figures that were believed to control humans’ destiny, the fourth and most recent single “Moirai” examines the disappointing dimensions of fate and lost love that exist beyond our control. Meanwhile, Rose bids adieu to a lover that she can no longer help on the heartbreaking crescendo of an album closer, “I Can’t Change at All.” And yet these somber soliloquies are tempered by the sweet ballad “Love Song” and the hopeful plea for love conveyed in “Soak It Up,” which features supporting vocals from Daughter’s Elena Tonra.
An album of undeniable grace and unequivocal beauty, Rose’s third studio affair suggests that something has indeed changed in Lucy Rose, and we the listeners are all the better for it. Though she has a legion of devotees in England and South America, Rose remains a relatively unknown entity here in the States. As more of our fellow Americans discover the many charms embedded throughout Something Changing’s sublime songs, we suspect (and sincerely hope) that Rose will shed her stateside anonymity soon enough.
Notable Tracks: “Floral Dresses” | “Is This Called Home” | “Moirai” | “No Good At All” | “Second Chance”
SEE Lucy Rose on tour | Dates