My exceedingly well documented Dear Rouge obsession started almost three years ago, after I bought their debut album, Black to Gold. That album brought all kinds of fun things to mind for me, inspiring my post on the Top 10 Things Dear Rouge’s Black to Gold Reminds Me Of. Not surprisingly, I love their new album, Phases, and it’s got my mind racing again. So here we go…
- Positivity: I was overjoyed to find “Little by Little” on this album. I first heard it, or an earlier version of it, in November 2015, the first time I saw them live. There was a line that fused in my brain, albeit slightly misremembered: “Maybe something good is gonna happen.” It featured heavily in my review of the show, though I now know it to be “Maybe something good is coming.” I first heard it at a time when I was making a real effort to be a more positive thinker, and it felt like the universe was telling me I was on the right path. I’m still on that path. And now, waking up with this song in my head helps to light that path.
- Bass: I love the emphasis on heavy bass and prominent bass lines through the album. Especially on “Live Through the Night,” which is all about that groovy, driving bass line.
- Blondie: “Boys & Blondes” just feels like a great Blondie song, and so much of the album has a real ‘80s feel – maybe even more than on the first album.
- Understated guitar: As a guitar player, in particular a lead guitar player, I know how difficult it can be sometimes to keep yourself from just spraying your glorious guitar badassery all over a song. And I know Drew can do that — I’ve heard it on live videos like this one. But his guitar M.O. for Dear Rouge is clearly restraint and I admire how he sticks to that, because it works. Even though he’s one of the two principles in the band, he tries not to dominate with his guitar. As a result, we just get these little guitar treats to look forward to once in a while: the riffage on “Live Through the Night,” the piercing opening chords of “Flashes,” and that little blues lick on “Boys & Blondes” that I always half expect is just the intro to a searing 12-bar solo.
- Sarah McLachlan: Danielle’s heavenly falsetto vocals in the chorus of opener “Wicked Thing” always put me in the mind of the goddess of Lilith Fair.
- Togetherness: When Drew and Danielle sing together it just seems so right. Those voices belong together. It feels so intimate. I wrote about that on Black to Gold’s “October Second,” and they do it again on album closer “The Clearing.” On this one, it’s the juxtaposition of her soaring power with his silky smoothness. Beautiful.
- “Wanna Wanna”: Before “Boys & Blondes” kicks off, we feel like we’re right there in the studio with them, as Danielle offers the suggestion, “Try it like ‘Wanna Wanna,’” amid the sound of humming amps, waiting to roar. It’s super cool, but what does it mean? Of course, “Wanna Wanna” is a great song from their debut album, but I can’t quite figure out what the two songs have in common that would have resulted from Danielle’s suggestion. I want to know!
- Spy movies: I guess more accurately, I’d say “spy movie theme songs.” It’s just the I-never-take-off-my-sunglasses-cool vibe I get from Drew’s riffs in “Flashes” and the one I already mentioned on “Live Through the Night,” where he echoes the bass line. I’m thinking “Peter Gunn” theme.