Portland Mercury "No Means No" Album Review

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'About 10 years ago, singer/songwriter Ezza Rose hitchhiked to the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles, riding with semi-truck drivers the whole journey north. After graduating, Rose decided to make Portland her permanent home.

“It seemed like a really accessible town for a creative person to live in,” Rose says.

She’s currently getting ready to release her fourth LP, No Means No, which draws inspiration from the disconnect between language and intention. Growing up, Rose says her mother would use contradictory expressions like “no means no” and “sorry isn’t good enough” (which is also the title of a song on the record). These phrases were confusing to her, since one reinforces the power of words while the other implies that sometimes, they aren’t enough to merit forgiveness.

In her own life, Rose feels like her words haven’t always been taken seriously. “When we disconnect the meaning from a word, it holds no value anymore and communication is gone,” she explains.

No Means No is moodier than Rose’s earlier albums, like 2014’s Poolside and 2015’s When the Water’s Hot, which pull from her bluegrass influences. The driving force of Rose’s music, though, is still her voice, which sounds fit for a smoky jazz lounge.

“We’ve gone electric and kind of veered away from the folky stuff,” she says.

Rose grew up in Julian, a historic Gold Rush town in California’s Cuyamaca Mountains that she describes as “a very community-driven place.” Her family didn’t own a TV, so she had to come up with her own ways to have fun. Her father often hosted his band practices at home, and eventually she started playing in her own punk bands.

The lineup of Rose’s current outfit includes guitarist Craig Rupert, drummer Ray Johnson, and bassist Alec England, who she met while they were working at the same bar. One evening England overheard her playing the first takes off the new record and asked to join her band.

For Rose, No Means No represents her effort to find clarity and speak up above the white noise. “It’s a reminder that I think truth is a real thing, and I think we’re lacking it as a society right now,” she says.'

-Isabel Lyndon

Willamette Week "No Means No" Album Review

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Ezza Rose Plugs In and Cranks the Volume on “No Means No”

"[LADIES & GENTLEMEN, WE'RE COPING IN SPACE] Ezza Rose's progression as an artist has seen the songwriter evolve from a folkier, roots-focused sound to the expansive dream rock of her latest LP, No Means No. Rose's music is all the more interesting for these experiments in sound—whether she's leading her crack band through guitar rave-ups or languidly paced, head-in-the-clouds numbers, it's clear that Rose's band is currently very much a rock-'n'-roll project. Rose emphatically repeats the coda "Don't wanna tell you that no means no!" on the record's title track, as the band around her works themselves into an equally furious guitar-driven peak. A successful sea change in tone comes via the hypnotic post-coital buzz of 'Baby, Come Down,' a track so dreamy you almost miss the darkness at the heart of the song's lyrics. 'Baby, come down, the sex was fine without it/Baby, come down, the music won't play without you,' Rose coos over an arrangement that's at once colored with a tinge of dread and foreboding and perfect for slow dancing. Much like the world in which we live, the romance Rose sings about has the potential for great beauty. But you have to be able to wade through the darkness to find it."

-Isabel Lyndon

Willamette Week Album Review

Willamette Week Album Review

"More electrified and slightly more ominous than the simple, lilting sound she previously established, this is Rose at her best so far."

Oregon Music News

Oregon Music News

“...an intense studio album with a sudden and unexpected beauty.”

Vortex Magazine Album Feature

Vortex Magazine Album Feature

"Her beautifully delicate, mournfully classic voice floats amongst the loosely bound, misty particles in the air and our minds and fills the cracks with a sound that's chilling and comforting, all at once."

ElevenPDX Interview

ElevenPDX Interview

"My introduction to music was being the five-year-old sitting on top of the speakers at the bar with a tambourine. Literally my first gig."

ElevenPDX Album Review

ElevenPDX Album Review

"Ezza’s singer/songwriting talents push on. Her voice is consistently smooth and clear, ethereal, and from the gut."