Following the critical acclaim of 2008’s Shotgun Daisy, Jersey songbird Stacie Rose has released a bang-for-your-buck double record under the guise, The Alter-Ego EPs. The blanket title of the album is fitting in that Rose offers up two very different approaches to song making. Means To An End is a throwback homage to her 80s rock influences, while Raw Sugar is comprised of clubby electronica with appropriate beats and synth instrumentation. And while the two albums couldn’t be more diametrically opposed, they find commonality through Rose’s vocal prowess which has the ability to be equally fierce and demure.
Means To An End opens with its rock-laden title track. Replete with backing rock instrumentation, the track is three minutes of vocally charged verses of vivid lyrical imagery. The track is foreshadowing for the rest of the album in that while the musicality is present, it is Rose’s vocal delivery that will stand at the forefront of the tracks. “Alter-Ego” features demure vocals reminiscent of Natalie Imbruglia and is representative of the softer side of the album. The pop rock nuances of the song make for an approachable track bound for radio spins. “Maybe Only Tonight” is an agro-paced rawk tune splashed with New Wave era synth. If the title track is reminiscent of a rock-laced Bonnie Raitt tune, then this is a vampier version of a Lita Ford.
Conversely, Raw Sugar is a dance record through and through. The electronica instrumentation and beats are present on all tracks but it makes for a more diverse album. Since several producers left a fingerprint on Raw the track differentiation is crystal clear. The title track opens with a lounge-y feel and immediately it struck me that the song seems better suited to a dance ethos as opposed to one of rock. Borrowing a page from T-Pain, the lyrical delivery is heavily effects-laden, though Rose’s vocals are still the prominent facet. Adding to the aforementioned diversity is “Supernatural Wonder” with its soul-ish backing vocals a la Earth, Wind and Fire and reggae vocal fills. Rose’s voice meshes well with the backing instrumentation and the guest appearance of Garrison Hawk adds a welcome dub dancehall lyrical facet. Rounding out Raw is the uber-catchy “Here In The Now.” While the twang guitar opener is misleading, (sounds like a country tune) it does fade nicely into the background and adds an interesting foundation to the track. The overall sound is pure dance and is arguably the most club bound track on the record.
The Alter-Ego EPs is a demarcation point where ambition melded with opportunity and produced a respectable outcome. Approaching two vastly different genres isn’t a typical endeavor and it can’t be easy to do both justice, but Rose has pulled this off in a manner that doesn’t sound contrived or reaching. Enjoy the two albums for what they are and revel in the fact that you get two discs for the price of one.
by Chris West[Rating: 3.5/5]