Doug Hoekstra opens Blooming Roses with "Acquired Taste," a moody lyric worthy of the desolate black-and-white photograph that graces the album's cover. Hoekstra's quietly delivered vocal, the sluggish tempo, and the steel guitar work underpin the lyric's melancholy mood. The title cut picks up the pace, but just a little, opting for a mellow rock groove. The arrangement -- mostly violin, electric guitar, bass, and percussions -- works well, and the catchy chorus with backing vocals adds nice touches to "Blooming Roses." Hoekstra also smartly varies the arrangements on the album with tambourines, Wurlitzers, piano, harmonica, ukulele, and accordion. Still, it may have benefited the disc to include more uptempo songs like "Your Sweet Love" and "Part of the Problem, Part of the Solution," though he seems, as a singer, more comfortable with slower-paced songs. Hoekstra's vocal style is somewhere between a spoken and sung whisper, a style of delivery that also adds a rather dark undercurrent to his material. Defining his vocal approach in this way is also a roundabout way of saying that his vocals are weak, though Hoekstra seems to have transformed this weakness into his style. Blooming Roses captures the moody ambiance promised on the cover photograph, leaving the listener with Hoekstra's bleak sonic vision.
Blooming Roses Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.