Rosie Dean’s “All Grown Up” (EP)

Rosie Dean’s EP All Grown Up is a debut that doesn’t land in the modern music scene. It explodes. The multi-talented Chief Operating Officer of CK Productions, Inc., an award-winning production company, likewise excels as a singer, actress, songwriter, and producer. Her self-produced first effort reflects the strong influence of many modern pop giants such as Billie Ellish, Lorde, and Ariana Grande. Her broad-based social media presence, including over 300,000 followers on TikTok, places her in an unique and enviable position promoting this first release.

It doesn’t need any puffery. The album’s four songs burst out of your speakers with sharp musical chops, buoyancy, and a whip-snap pace. “Bitter” opens All Grown Up focused on guitar and voice but soon transforms with added vocal tracks. Segueing from a lean rock intro into this wider sound gives us a “look” at her songwriting instincts – she intuitively understands how to build for effect. Perhaps most importantly, she doesn’t make things complicated.

“Lifeline” moves in a different direction. Dean jettisons the guitar in favor of a synthesizer-laden arrangement but the same attention to vocal detail remains. She knows how to frame her voice in the best possible light and Dean orchestrates multiple vocal tracks with a deft hand, but there’s more. It’s impossible to ignore the theatrical qualities of her music. They have a memorable effect on this song and help dramatize its emotions without ever coming across as overwrought.

The same lush vocal treatment continues during “Sirens”, but this time it accompanies a much more layered synthesizer attack. “Sirens” has more musical dimensions than its immediate predecessor and there’s never any sense of Dean getting lost with its added demands. The steady accession of the album from sonically lean origins, even spartan, into the comparatively grandiose point we reach here points towards All Grown Up’s understated ambitions.

“Rose” opens with sound effects like the preceding song. This time it’s the sound of scratchy record, but it’s a harmless affectation. She bookends the EP by revisiting the economical focus of the first track. A key difference, however, is how Dean turns up the soul influence in her music. This is a track with roots running far deeper than Lorde, Grande, and Ellish and stands as All Grown Up’s finest vocal arrangement.

It’s a final look, as well, at an underrated part of her presentation. Popular preconceived notions say pop music such as this, arch commercial fare, doesn’t traffic in thoughtful and detailed lyrics. Several emerging artists are pushing back in recent years against such misguided ideas and Dean joins their rank. “Rose” feels like it could be called “Self Portrait”, but her intensely autobiographical lyrics are first-rate and she handles them well. It’s as promising of a debut as you can hope for. Its major flaw is it isn’t any longer. Word has it, however, that Dean is hard at work generating new material for another release this year, so we don’t have long to wait. That’s good – Rosie Dean’s All Grown Up will whet many appetites. 

Michael Rand

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