Runaway June

Blue Roses

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Blue Roses Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

When Blue Roses arrived in June 2019, Runaway June was on tour with Carrie Underwood and Maddie & Tae. Based on this debut album, it was a fitting pairing. Blue Roses occupies a space between Underwood's gilded diva-pop and the sly side of Maddie & Tae, accentuating both the steely and tender aspects of both. Although Runaway June tends to adhere to the middle of the road -- they favor sunny melodies and clean, crisp settings -- the trio of Naomi Cooke, Hanna Mulholland, and Jennifer Wayne aren't afraid to quicken the tempos or crank the amps. A brawny cover of Dwight Yoakam's "Fast as You" serves as a testament to the latter, but Runaway June sounds even better when they thread that attitude into softer settings. Witness "Buy My Own Drinks," whose liberated swagger echoes that of Maddie & Tae's "Girl in a Country Song" or the bittersweet undercurrent that acts as a balance to the otherwise sprightly "Trouble with This Town." On ballads, the trio is equally deft: "We Were Rich" is vividly etched and "Blue Roses" is a plaintive and heart-rending weeper that evokes any number of close-harmony country trios. "Blue Roses" may be the one unadorned number on Blue Roses, but its presence illustrates Runaway June's sturdy foundation, while the rest is gleaming state-of-the-art country-pop, the kind that glides easily into the mainstream yet lingers in the mind long after it's stopped playing.

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