Of all the appellations the hackneyed critic can heap on Dey Rose, tentative would certainly be last. Her music—every heaving, bruised, and intemperate second of it—is not so much a heightened hybrid of her favorites but, rather, an assemblage of variations on Byron and Shelley. In short, as an earlier review posited, it’s music for people who “feel the fuck out of things,” beyond fashion, outside irony, come hell or high water.
Brought up amid a smattering of glam, alt-rock, soul, and jazz, the singer-songwriter—originally from Pampanga and Baguio City in the Philippines, but who has since called Vancouver home—has crafted a heady musical fusion buoyed mainly by her sweet and nuanced singing. Yes, she may have been partly named after the Guns N’ Roses front man, but whereas the hair-metal legend got off on outsider nihilism, Dey Rose is very much of the world, and more importantly, very much in it: among the lovelorn, the openly wounded, the highly sensitized.
Past her celebrated finalist stint in talent-search show “Wishcovery,” artistic rebirth was nigh. But it was when she took on the Dey Rose moniker that the creative dam burst, culminating in her Lilystars Records debut “Panting Heart.” Said record is a trove of beautiful paradoxes: a lust-for-life vibrance countered by downtrodden poetry (‘Puzzle Piece,’ ‘Bad News’); a sunny optimism crossed with hands-up surrender (‘Paulit-Ulit,’ ‘Di Mo Lang Alam’); and easy-listening instrumentation with tasteful virtuoso chops (pretty much all of it, but most markedly on the blazing wind- and fretwork of ‘When I’m With You’).
There was also the profoundly affecting ‘Feliz Navidad (I’m Falling Apart)’ from Christmas 2020, and a mere month after—a portent of her further unfurling in songcraft—the sublime ‘Tired,’ a bit of confessional verse that ultimately paints a universal picture. In her work, Dey Rose brings with her not just family history and the panache of the accidental pancontinental, but also technique, having been schooled in music theory, operatic singing, and audio engineering.
A budding talent in any genre, and one truly worth keeping tabs on.
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