Rose to lara

By Michael Campbell

This group must overcome a serious obstacle to big time success: originality. They have way too much of it. Shoot, vocalist John Fitch doesn't even attempt to emulate the Michael Stipe mumble, and that guitarist Rob Rainwater seems totally uninterested in sounding like the next Stevie Ray.

Nope, what we have here is a reviewer's nightmare; Rostulara can't be easily categorized or compared. Although traces of Blue Nile, Tears for Fears, U2, Crowded House, and Sade (honest, check out the melody "Refuse") occasionally surface, you'll never mistake Rostulara for any of them.

One of the hallmarks of this recording is the attention paid to the big picture. The arrangements and production never overpower the songs, even though standard effects such as digital delay are frequently employed. The sonic atmosphere, space as well as sound, is managed very well here (hats off to the production/recording team of Vince Emmett, Charles Ellis, and Bill Porter), the feedback segue between "Down" and "Maybe She's Gone" being one of many powerful examples.

The musicianship is a treat, focused primarily around Rainwater's guitar which radiates large, warm, well placed jazz and pop voicings against the steady and sturdy Bud Ratliff (on bass) / Nathan Fitch (percussion) rhythm section. The balance of John Fitch's yearning lead vocals with empathetic backup vocals complete the picture. The song "Shadows" provides an effective showcase.

The songs themselves are strong melodically, structurally original (good-bye I-V-IV), lyrically involving, and compellingly arranged, evoking hope, regret, wistfulness and determination. I can only assume they are originals, as no writing credits were included with this promo copy.

This is a band with a strong vision of who they are, and the talent to express it. I am hopeful they will succeed anyway.