Mark Rose – The Greatest Lakes
Release Date: February 26, 2009
Record Label: Unsigned
Band breakups are always tragic enough, and it is just salt in the wound when you hear members go on to quit making music entirely. Case in point, if the dissolution of Acceptance wasn’t sad enough already, the thought of Jason Vena using that sugar-sweet voice of his to sell cars is borderline maddening. Thankfully, however, this type of exodus is not always the standard. And though the departure of Spitalfield from the scene was tough to swallow, frontman Mark Rose has decided to continue sharing his vocal gifts through a new solo project.
On The Greatest Lakes, it sure would have been easy for Rose to go the way of other lead singer-turned-solo act forebears. Grab an acoustic guitar, a small backing band (if any), some lo-fi production, and a handful of songs about a smattering of neo-Americana staples, and voila! Transition complete! Luckily, Rose is a bit more inventive than that, and instead took his music in a much different direction than that of say, Dustin Kensrue or Anthony Green. The Greatest Lakes is not predictable acoustic tripe (not to say that of the aforementioned is, per se), but rather a nice, tight set of jazzy, groove-infused blues-rock that carries a rather distinct identity. The ex-Spitalfield man ends up sounding like a laid back cross between the smoky, candlelight vibe of John Mayer and the relaxed pop sensibilities of Jason Mraz. And though Rose has only been established a solo artist for a short time, some of the tracks on Lakes make him sound quite comfortable in his new digs.
If there is one glaring weakness to be found on The Greatest Lakes, it would definitely be the lack of memorable or well-defined hooks – not surprising, really, since Spitalfield suffered from the same sort of deficiency. This is not to say the songs lack overall pop or staying power, but just lack the pizzazz to scream for consideration among more mainstream listeners. Along the same lines, in his solo vocal duties, Rose’s delivery indeed maintains a velvety air of coolness, but consequently, he seems to be exploring far less of his vocal range than he did on Spitalfield’s records, especially on 2006’s criminally underrated Better than Knowing Where You Are.
All in all, the shortfalls on Lakes are somewhat minor, and do little to tarnish the elation derived from once again hearing Mark Rose’s signature vocals on recorded media. The Greatest Lakes is not the type of EP that will launch some brand new superstar path in Rose’s career, but it is unquestionable a welcome and intriguing addition to an already noteworthy resume. If you were ever a fan of Spitalfield, or if you are looking for a relaxed, smooth pop album to goove to, Mark Rose has an offering you would do well to check out.