The new album from the Twin Cities hip-hop duo Atmosphere shows 20 years of kinsmanship. That can also mean a none-too-exciting comfort.
Within the first few moments of opening track “Tele,” listeners familiar with the acoustic Americana and poetry of Ezza Rose will notice something notably different: the sound of an electric Gibson Les Paul. “Tele” is a fun tale of mind-control and addiction to technology, set to a more upbeat alternative sound since the band’s albums Poolside and Jacob. Ezza dives into writing about observing the human condition, while still throwing in the occasional love song, as in the track entitled “Kissing and Shouting.”
Much of The Ezza Rose Band’s work has a certain underlying silence that only empowers each instrument’s note or vocal echo. Recorded in the studio space of Secret Society, the sound of When The Water’s Hot is polished and contained, with a launch of electronic instruments and production. Acoustic instruments like the ukulele and accordion have been diminished and replaced with keys, whirling effects, and electric guitar pings. Lance Leonnig still plays upright bass, and Jessie Dettwiler (Alameda) adds intrigue with cello, particularly in the exotic splendor of the track “Amelie.”
Ezza’s singer/songwriting talents push on. Her voice is consistently smooth and clear, ethereal, and from the gut. It rises, glides, and falls, not unlike her cover-art for the album, depicting the daffodils that her small mining hometown is known for, and the charts mapping ocean paths (an homage to her love of sailing). While the band’s sound expands with more rock, blues, and experimental elements, The Ezza Rose Band still retains its strong organic roots that have been deepening in Portland for the last several years. »
– Brandy Crowe