British Singer-Songwriter Rose Betts Releases New Album, “White Orchids”
On March 25th, British singer-songwriter Rose Betts released her debut album, White Orchids! Full of piano ballads, interesting pop production, and powerful lyrics, White Orchids shows Rose Betts at her best. There’s very minimal dead space, even when she takes poetry breaks after two of the most impactful songs. The poetry is a nice touch, particularly since it gives the listener an opportunity to breathe in the midst of the heavy subject matter Betts discusses in her lyrics.
Songs like “Lions,” “Ruins,” “Thank You,” and “Recovery” show Betts’ lyrics at their best. “Lions” reminds the listener that “There is a courage in the dark,” while “Ruins” opens with Betts telling the intended audience – potentially a former romantic partner – that she has “spent a lifetime in [their] eyes.” “Thank You” shows Betts admitting her faults (“I’m always a coward in the end”) while acknowledging that the song’s addressee is to blame and claiming they “still got a splinter of [her] soul.” Finally, “Recovery” discusses the struggle many go through when going through a recovery process. She requests that the listener not try to stop her from letting go of them because she’s in recovery.
Most of her lyrics are seemingly addressed to a former lover, but they come across in such a personal way that it feels like she’s addressing the listener personally. This ability lies in Betts’ vocal delivery and production. When she sings, it feels like she’s in the room with you. There isn’t anything completely grandiose or over-the-top. It just seems like you’re sitting with your friend who happens to be playing the piano.
However, for all of her lyrical prowess and personal vocal delivery, Betts shines brightest in the musical performances. Particularly on tracks like the titular “White Orchids,” “Hate Me,” and the aforementioned “Recovery.” “White Orchids” might seem like a weird inclusion in this particular review section, but the piano paired with the strings on this track create one of the most gorgeous sounding songs in quite some time. Of course, Betts’ vocals help create the ambiance. That’s just a given at this point.
“Hate Me” is one of the more “baroque pop-rock” songs on the record, pulling from influences like Florence and the Machine to create a nostalgic song working within both the classical and contemporary fields. The mix of strings, synthesizers, and subtle drums creates a soundscape that stands out amongst the rest of the album, and the lyrics, though very straightforward, are incredibly powerful. Coming off of the first poetry break, “Hate Me” is an exceptional song that brings the listener back into the world of the album cleanly.
“Recovery” acts in this same vein. It’s not only an exceptional lyrical piece and instrumental, but it acts as the return to the album after a poetry break. In the case of “Recovery,” though, it also acts as the penultimate track. “Secret” is a great closer and palette cleanser to ease the listener back into the world, changed for the better, but “Recovery” is the start of the process. Honestly, “Recovery” is the process. It’s a phenomenal penultimate song, and it fits well in the world Rose Betts builds in this album.
It’s also important to note that Rose Betts wrote this album by herself and co-produced the entire thing. While this is becoming more commonplace – the production side, that is – it’s still always impressive when an artist does it well. And Rose Betts does it well. Nothing on this album sounds out of place, and it all sounds good. There aren’t moments that feel like they could be polished more, and there aren’t moments that seem like they belong on different albums. The sound of White Orchids is cohesive, even in the poetry breaks.
Which also need to be mentioned more than just in passing. The writing on these is fantastic, but Rose Betts’ reading is what gives them their power. As mentioned before, Betts has an incredible singing voice, but her spoken word performance also needs to be praised. The poems are well-written, and the performance gives them the life they fully deserve. There are lines in here like “I want the antidote for lovesickness/Stored in a back molar like a cyanide tooth” and “You must think I’ve patched up the you-shaped hole in my soul with chewing gum and dried lavender.” Absolutely gorgeous writing, and a gorgeous idea to include these throughout the album.
There’s a lot more that can be said about White Orchids, but I recommend checking it out for yourself and giving Rose Betts the streams she deserves. As always, let us know what you think in the comments below!