It's finally arrived — and no, it's not the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. It isn't the new season of Modern Family or The Office either. It’s taken three years, but Rosi Golan's sophomore album is finally here.
Few people recognize Rosi Golan by name, but many would recognize her songs. Her songs have been featured in the television shows Dollhouse and Brothers and Sisters, as well as in the movie Dear John. Born in Israel before moving to Los Angeles, Rosi Golan began focusing on her music career when she was nineteen years old. She has worked with famous singer-songwriters like Jamie Hartman and William Fitzsimmons and also won the first ASCAP Robert Allen Award for songwriting excellence. Rather than bursting onto the music scene, she has slowly crept into the public eye, gradually building up a solid fan base.
Golan’s first album, The Drifter and the Gypsy, was a dreamy mix of folky tunes and pop ballads. Her second album, Lead Balloon, continues this trend while further developing her sound and songwriting. The album opens with the playful number “Paper Tiger,” a song full of sugary vocals. Her folk background can be heard again on “I Like You,” a song that feels as though she’s singing to her childhood crush. You can practically see Golan sitting on a playground childishly pointing and drawing out the words “I like you” with her mouth.
Lead Ballon's finest moments come, however, in its second half. “Underneath a Beating Heart” is backed with an electronic beat before adding a jazzy trumpet layer. It has a different sound from her previous songs, but she pulls it off.
Golan’s second album has a stronger emphasis on the theme of love, and her strongest love ballads come during the second half. In “Say It Anyway” her voice softly croons the line “Every love begins encased in gold,” though there is a sense of desperation when she sings “How am I gonna make it better if I can’t go back?” in her song "Can't Go Back."
Perhaps the best song on the album is the gentle “Seeing Ghosts.” Backed only by an acoustic guitar, Golan sings, “I’m seeing ghosts / Everywhere I turn, there you float / And you are more than beautiful, but I’ve got to let you go.” The song is a poetic farewell to an old love completely untainted by bitterness or regret.
A couple of the tracks, however, are not as strong as the rest of the album. Lead Balloon's second track “You and I” starts to feel a bit redundant after her repetition of the line, “When you arrived from nowhere there was nothing. Now there’s you and I, you and I.” And her voice feels weighed down in “Lead Balloon,” making the song feel as though it is dragging along.
Overall, though, Lead Balloon is a real gem, and it is a shame Rosi Golan has not caught more attention from the general public. One problem might be that many of her songs lack the heavy instrumental background so popular in today’s music. Her music is for the most part stripped down. In addition, she tends to fall more in the “singer-songwriter” category — her songs are not “poppy" enough or “alternative” enough to get air time on major radio stations.
Hopefully Golan will continue gaining a stronger fan base because she has the ability to craft simple lyrics that, coupled with her melodic voice, create songs of profound beauty. Never has this been more evident than on her second album. Lead Balloon is an album meant for repeated listening. It is an album for those in a blossoming romance or a dying relationship. It is an album full of both pain and hope. It is an album to soothe the mind and heart in the dark.