ALBANY – Caroline Rose is an artist you ought to familiarize yourself with. In 2018 the singer-songwriter released “Loner,” which replaced the straightforward, traditional folk-Americana aesthetic Rose started her career with a few years prior with a synth-based alt-pop sound, bright red jumpsuit and lyrics that showcased her knack for sarcasm and wry turns of phrase.
Rose’s decision to make music that more closely reflected her sensibilities and personality paid off, and “Loner” earned her plaudits from NPR, Pitchfork, Billboard and Rolling Stone.
On Friday, Rose released the next step in her musical evolution with “Superstar.” The LP is a conceptual piece Rose recorded in her home, telling the story of a person who gives up their life to pursue dreams of professional stardom. Rose doubled down on her synth exploration, incorporating strands of electro-funk and grand ballads led by swirling arrangements. It’s bold and brilliant, and Rose celebrated its release and kicked off her tour in support of “Superstar” at the Hollow.
After opening with the first two tracks off “Superstar,” “Nothing is Impossible” and the bouncy jam “Got to go my own Way,” Rose noted that the Hollow show is the first time she and her four-piece band have performed any of the material from the album and asked for the audience’s patience in advance for any miscues that may arise.
That request wasn’t really necessary, as Rose and her band played all 11 songs from “Superstar” in nearly flawless fashion. Lead single “Feel the Way I Want,” currently played regularly on concert co-sponsor WEQX-FM, was a big hit live, the sly funk-pop of the tune prompting dancing from Rose on-stage and from pockets of audience members in the sold-out crowd. A similar reaction was elicited by “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever,” a sparkly gem that fused early Prince (think “I Wanna Be Your Lover”) with Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”
Earlier: Spotlight: Caroline Rose at MASSMoca
Rose and her band were locked in and focused as they worked their way through the entirety of the album. It wasn’t clear just how intense that focus was until they concluded the last notes of the synth-heavy album closer “Hook a Ride.” There were clearly some nerves in presenting “Superstar” for the first time, as everyone on-stage was noticeably looser and buoyant in demeanor upon its completion.
Before moving on with the rest of her performance, a few DJs from WEQX and co-promoter Shane Spillenger came on-stage to surprise Rose with a bouquet of roses and a present to commemorate the release of the new LP. They also noted that the Friday night show is the second time Rose has played the Hollow, and the second time she sold it out.
After that, Rose played “More of the Same” and “Jeannie Becomes a Mom.” During the latter, Rose hopped down and sang the first verse in the crowd while her band was dancing and smiling from the stage. The evening wrapped up with her breakthrough single, the madcap rocker “Money,” which ended the set on an ebullient note.
Rose’s drummer opened the show, performing as his alter ego Good Baby. It was indie, acoustic singer-songwriter performed with a backing drum track. He was fine and his songs show potential, but he was a little hard to hear above the din of the room.
Concert Review Caroline Rose With Good Baby
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: 79 N. Pearl St., Albany
Length: Caroline Rose, 70 minutes; Good Baby, 30 minutes
Highlights: Caroline Rose’s “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?,” “Feel the way I Want” and “Hook a Ride”
Crowd: sold out and pretty upbeat throughout