Rose, the eponymous album debut by singer/songwriter Keren Meloul (aka Keren Rose), is a star-making first effort. Produced to near perfection by industry veteran Dominique Blanc-Francard, the album showcases the soft vocals and catchy melodies of Rose amid calm acoustic guitars and a jazzy rhythm section, with chorus vocals, steel guitar, harmonica, piano, trumpet, saxophone, and other subtle instrumentation popping up from time to time on various songs. While "J'ai" is a spare song featuring Rose alone with only her acoustic guitar in accompaniment and "Je M'Ennuie" plays up the album's light jazz undercurrent, most songs fall somewhere in between, resulting in an overall style that bridges the gap between folk-pop and jazz-pop. It's as if Norah Jones were French, wrote her own songs, played acoustic guitar rather than piano, and stuck with the style of her first couple albums. The appeal of Rose is clear from a stylistic standpoint -- pretty young woman sings beautiful self-penned songs with a smooth alternative style, produced by an ace hitmaker -- and though some of her songs are a bit quirky, especially during the jazzier second half of the album, there are plenty of praiseworthy pop songs interspersed throughout. The album-opening lead single, "La Liste," is one of the most appealing, a sentimental love song in which Rose recounts intimately in first-person perspective a list of romantic activities she would like to do with her partner, addressed directly to him ("avec toi"). The other standouts are sequenced intermittently ("Sombre Con," "Ciao Belle," "L'Acide"), broken up by lighter material like "Rose" that often feels effortlessly pleasing. The range of material on Rose, at times earnest, at other times tossed-off, helps the album flow well from beginning to end, holding one's interest for all 50 minutes and compelling one to stick around even for the hidden bonus track, "Je Sais Plus." All in all, it's no wonder the album was a Top Five hit on the French charts, for Rose is young singer/songwriter's masterful debut with charm to last for days.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier