Album Review: You + Me – Rose Ave

Pop stars rarely get much credit for their talents, and for good reason.  When you exist in a genre of music that uses every trick and technology to make everything sound completely synthetic, it’s difficult to hear any of the natural ability shine through.  Even the great singers in pop get washed out by autotune, computerized instrumentation, and an over-abundance of compression.  Hearing an actual voice is nearly impossible, so gauging how much respect should be given is a tricky proposition.

I have always been an admirer of Pink’s voice, with it’s mix of grit and beauty.  I often wished her albums would pull back just a bit and let her shine through and show her talents, but even in the fake world of pop, she has stood out as one of the best voices out there.  With this new project, I finally get my wish, and we all get a treat.

“Rose Ave.” is a stripped back record, the kind of bare-bones music that doesn’t allow anyone to hide their shortcomings.  What you hear is what they have to offer, and it’s precisely the kind of music that most allows for genius to be witnessed.  That’s not to jump the gun and say that this record qualifies as genius, but it has the right ingredients.

Listening to these songs, I can’t help but be swept up in the atmosphere created.  These songs are somber, and melancholy, but still tinged with absolute beauty.  The way their voices harmonize is reminiscent of some of the greatest music ever made, and shows the enduring treasure that is the human voice.  The best moments here are just two voices and an acoustic guitar, those sparse moments where you can hear every nuance and vibration coming from Pink and Dallas Green.

These songs lack the muscular hooks of the work they are known for, but the fragile nature of these songs is what makes them stand out as something special.  The hook on a song like “Capsized” is a delicate wash, the kind that requires real vocal skill not to overwhelm.  You + Me plays it perfectly, and makes a powerful case for the spontaneity of the creative spirit.  This is music that couldn’t have been improved by spending six months in the studio tinkering with these songs.

It’s often said that a song isn’t a song unless it can be stripped down to a single guitar and a voice.  That is essentially what You + Me has done with this entire album, and to great effect.  They have made a gorgeous album of heartbreaking songs, and one of the most beautiful albums of the year.  Not to denigrate her own albums, which I enjoy quite a bit, but this is hands down my favorite release Pink has ever put her name on.

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