Most country artists and Americana artists come from Nashville. Others come from out west in Los Angeles usually. The latter is where new duo Roses & Cigarettes come from. Jenny Pagliaro and Angela Petrilli formed Roses & Cigarettes back in 2013. Pagliaro has been singing as long as she can remember, while Petrilli has been playing the guitar ever since she was nine years old. Roses & Cigarettes don’t put themselves under one genre, as they like to play country, Americana and folk. This can certainly be heard in their new self-titled, debut album they released this past May.
Roses & Cigarettes kick off the album with “Driving.” It’s appropriately named because it’s sound like something you would play as you’re driving down an open highway. It has a very uplifting feeling. The guitar play combined with the faint organ in the background make for an interesting sound. Bongo drums play in “Shelter.” I find this to be a puzzling choice, as it doesn’t fit the rest of the album. Once the song advances beyond this strange opener, it proves to be a decent song. “Nowadays” is a heartbreak song that sees a woman struggling to move beyond a broken relationship. Seasons change and yet she still can’t feel a thing. It’s a pretty solid song. The duo sing about how fast life can go in “Another Way.” The gist of the song is about always finding another way to keep on trucking in life. Pagliaro’s vocals are pretty good on this song and the arrangement is really well done.
The gem of this album and where Roses & Cigarettes shine brightest is on “Gypsy Woman.” It’s a darker, grittier song about a woman who considers herself a hell-raising, gypsy who does what she wants and worries her mama sick. I get a real New Orleans vibe from this song, as it sounds like something you would hear in a smoky bar on Bourbon Street. With more songs like this, more people will know the name Roses & Cigarettes. “Laurel Canyon” is a song about growing up and chasing your dreams. It comes off as a very self-reflective song from Roses & Cigarettes, as they embark on making a name for themselves. This is another one of the highlights of the album.
Heartbreak is the theme of “Giving Up On Love.” A woman has had it with love and is giving up on it all together after getting her heart-broken so many times. This song features some great instrumentation, including a decent dose of steel guitar throughout it. This sounds like a song Martina McBride might have sung in the late 90s. One of the most rocking songs on the record is “Whiskey Down.” It’s about going out for a fun night on the town. The lyrics are a tad cliché, but not bad. Overall it’s a fun song with some impressive organ and guitar play.
“Broken Down in Barstow” is a somber-toned song about a woman being stuck in a small town called Barstow, which is situated in San Bernardino County in California. It’s right between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She laments throughout the song about wanting to be in Los Angeles, but realizes she doesn’t need to worry about it and focuses on what’s at hand. Pagliaro’s vocals are impressive. The album ends with “Sweet Summer Nights,” an upbeat and mandolin laden tune. Along with the mandolin, this song features a variety of great instrumentation. The lyrics are a little cliché, as it’s a song that reflects back on memories of the summer. This song isn’t bad, but I would’ve ended the album with “Broken Down in Barstow,” as it feels like a more proper conclusion.
Overall this is a very solid debut album from Roses & Cigarettes. Obviously there are some things that need work, such as the lyrics and finding a cohesive flow. But the duo does a lot of things right. Pagliaro has really good vocals and Petrilli is just as great on the guitar. They make a really good combination and mesh well together. They’re at their best with the bluesy, darker songs I thought and I hope they pursue more songs like “Gypsy Woman.” This album is definitely worth giving a listen, especially songs such as “Gypsy Woman” and “Broken Down in Barstow.” Roses & Cigarettes are ones to watch out for as they carve out a name for themselves.