Again The Beginner



Al Rose’s eighth album, Again the Beginner, is an urgent set of 13 good and true songs which features perhaps the loveliest melodies, catchiest hooks and nerviest set of lyrics he’s yet composed. It’s a heartening and bracing experience, one man’s attempt to come to terms with modern times and that broken feeling everybody’s got in the pit of their stomach. The stakes couldn’t be higher: this is your life, our time is running short, and every personal crisis seems tied to an accumulating sense of public dread. After all, a lot has happened since Al dropped his last album, 2016’s Spin Spin Dizzy: years of authoritarian encroachment, COVID-19, and unstinting attacks on democracy at home and abroad. 

As a craftsman, Al’s honed his songwriting to a fine edge. He’s got a real gift for melody, and each line cuts just the way he wants—whether what he wants is to make you laugh or make you cry. He’s backed up the words with catchy, well-nigh addictive tunes. It’s a kind of protest music: he’s sounding the tocsin against complacency. Singing us sweetly through the dark, reaching for the sky, scattering catchy hooks and joyful choruses behind him as he goes, Al has crafted a cathartic set for our times with Again the Beginner. 
It may see us through times even darker than these. 

Spin SPin Dizzy

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“Al Rose, who is always impressive, brings his intelligent, funny, and sharp songs with the beautiful arrangements he consistently creates." 

— Moors Magazine, Holland 


“The Chicago eccentric’s seventh career album, Spin Spin Dizzy, was, as always, recorded with his band The Transcendos and working with producer Blaise Barton. He’s been developing these songs in coffeehouses and small clubs touring over half the world. He’s got taste and experience that translates into ten tunes showcasing his lyrical irony and playful metaphors that still resonate as personal. Musically it falls somewhere between folk and Americana but at times with a Sixties pop flavor- and even edgy, lively rock’n’roll. The band provides the necessary ebb and flow with these brilliant and curious compositions. And at the finish line is a highlighted string ensemble that was heard earlier as accompaniment on the disc." 

— Roots Highway, Italy 


“An album that cannot be called ordinary. Lyrics of a rare high standard. It’s difficult to define or pigeon-hole Rose’s music: blues, folk, rock, and jazz are all there in his songs- just not immediately recognizable which is which, and that’s part of the attraction. Add the profound lyrics and very special arrangements, Spin Spin Dizzy does not reveal all its secrets on the first listen." 

— Keys And Chords, Belgium 


“Spin Spin Dizzy seems to be the real deal. Offbeat and quirky. Roots-rock that comes from left field and takes unexpected directions. ‘Worse Came To Worse’ adds some funk and muscle and ‘Jubilation’s Grip’ is more intensely introspective." 

— Rock'N'Reel, England 


“Al Rose’s wayward folks veers out sharply from the corners but often in subtle ways. The title track can’t be put in the folk frame because of the instrumentation but it still feels right. This is a perfectly orchestrated album full of enchanting lyrics" 

— Rootsville, Holland 


“Brilliant, funny, and rocking heavy!" 

— Ung Tro, Sweden 


“The songwriter from Chicago navigates between blues, jazz, and country without denying the rock. Is that a sitar and spoons combo? A horn section with banjo? There’s more to discover past a first listening, especially when you delve into the lyrics. A musical bouquet!" 

— Written In Music, Belgium 


“Recommended for fans of quirky rock!" 

— Muziekwereld, Holland

Sad GO Lucky

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“This songwriter from Chicago could have invented winking. It's all suggested by the lyrics of 'Sad Go Lucky,' the design of the album, and the website. What makes it interesting is the faint smile that hides behind every line." 

— Folker, Germany 


“If Roine Stolt sang witty non-epic-length songs that asked "what the fuck?" he would probably sound a lot like Chicago-based singer-songwriter Al Rose on Sad Go Lucky. (Rose, in turn, reminds me of Warren Zevon.) Rose's folk-rock voice is weathered and wearied from two decades of lyrical inventiveness too smart for the mainstream, yet it is still beautiful — especially when spewing against Twitter ("How did I ever exist before I knew how much you piss?") and, indeed, the whole damn United States of America ("Purple mountain's mercury/From sea to oily sea/The amber waves have let me down")." 

— Sea Of Tranquility, Belgium 


"'Sad Go Lucky' once more reunites Rose with Grammy–winning producer Blaise Barton, who again shares knob–turning duties with Rose. Also back to provide capable backing on the project is Rose's size–shifting band — The Transcendos — still anchored by the artist's long–time collaborator, friend ,and bassist Steve Hashimoto. Current Transcendos include string instrumentalists Steve Doyle and Maury Smith, drummer Lance Helgeson and keyboardist Carter Luke. Guest musicians, including vocalist Sue Demel (of Sons of The Never Wrong) and pedal steel player Brian Wilkie, provide additional aural color to the project. 

"Sad Go Lucky" is a stellar release from an artist who finds much acclaim abroad — often touring in Europe and Japan — yet remains largely under the radar in Chicago." 

—Tom Lounges, Northwest Indiana Times 


"The sixth album from the Chicago artist Al Rose is the best singer / songwriter album I've heard in a long time. That wonderful feeling when he finishes 'I Feel Like A Milion Dollars' with a real big band blowout is reason enough to repeatedly listen. 

The quirky lyrics are reason enough to own your own copy so you can easily pick up the booklet and sings when the mood hits you. Lines like, 'I hear that you've got a new blog. You're tweeting about your new job. How you envy your daughter and you like drinking water and you bump up your eggs when you jog. How did I ever exist before I knew how much you pee? But your photo is hot on your profile. Honey, now come here and give us a kiss. '(from 'They Lowered The Bar Again') is both beautiful contemporary criticism and funny. This platter is full of similar stuff. 

Did I mention that he sings very well, a bit parallel to Elvis Costello? Sad Go Lucky is a beautiful album." 

—Ikon, Sweden 


"Al Rose est originaire de Chicago et c’est la qu’il donne l’impression de bien sentir sans toute fois etre un chanteur de blues. Il pratique depuis des annees une musique qui s’appuie sur des bases folk mais avec une approche souvent pop. Bien sur Al Rose a ecoute Bob Dylan mais son univers c’est avant tout celui des bars dans lesquels il joue avec ses potes a longueur d’annee. Il s’inspire il se nourrit de son environnement et s’exprime avec conviction. La guitar acoustique est son instrument de predilection mais tout en restant dans un spirit folk il s’entoure de nombreux musiciens qui donnent une certaine variete a son nouveau CD le 6 eme en 20 ans. On passé donc du folk traditionnel de “Scorpion Hills” a la pop de “The Girl Who Whispered Wolf”: la country de “Daddy Doncha Do Me”. Al Rose maitrise bien son sujet en offrant une musique originale qui sans etre exceptionnelle finit par retenir l’attention. Un musician qui cultive un savoir faire, aide en cela par une ribambelle de potes musiciens." 

—Sur La Route de Memphis, France 


"If you find that the singer/songwriters of today do little to put their finger on the pulse of time and do too much gazing at their own navels, then listen to Al Rose from Chicago. With his cynical but exceedingly cheerful album, Sad Go Lucky, he delivers raw, socially-critical songs- so tasty you'll be licking your fingers. Moreover, Rose sometimes has a hilarious sense of humor and he brings his songs beautifully wrapped in pretty Americana packages: sometimes bluesy, sometimes with a little more country, sometimes jazzier, or sometimes leaning against the rock, but it always hits. Highly recommended." 

—Moors Magazine, Holland 


"Ein 'happy-go-lucky kind of guy' wandelt leichtfüßig durchs Leben und macht sich um nichts und niemanden größere Gedanken - zumindest nicht, wenn die Gedanken all zu belastend wären und seelische wie körperliche Mühsal bedeuten könnten. Nun, wie Al Rose als Privatmensch so drauf ist, darüber lässt sich aus der Ferne nur spekulieren. Als Songschreiber jedoch ist er ein 'Sad-go-lucky'-Typ. Dieser steht zwar in keinem Wörterbuch - aber die musikalische Selbstbeschreibung passt dennoch super. Denn Al Rose spielt gern mit Worten und lässt sich auf seinem sechsten Studioalbum "Sad Go Lucky" mit blumigen Metaphern und nicht zuletzt einer gesunden Portion Selbstironie besonders über die Dinge aus, die im Leben schief gehen - ohne dabei den Mut zu verlieren! 

Und weil die Sorgen eines Mannes nun mal so vielseitig sind, wie sie sind, spiegelt sich das auch in der Musik wider - auf sehr erfreuliche Art und Weise! Al Rose und elf Mitmusiker zaubern ein erfrischendes stilistisches Potpourri zusammen. So ganz genau lässt sich kaum ein Song kategorisieren - außer vielleicht "Daddy Doncha Do Me", ein zynischer und flotter Rock'n'Roller. Der Song ist aber gleich in mehrerer Hinsicht eine Ausnahme. Selten ist Al Rose derart schnell unterwegs. Und nur selten wird über ein ganzes Stück hinweg mit voller Bandbesetzung agiert. Al Rose bevorzugt nämlich die reduzierte Variante - was sich definitiv nur auf den Klang bezieht, aber nicht auf den Gehalt seiner Worte! 

Mit zart besaitetem Tiefgang eröffnet der Titeltrack "Sad Go Lucky" wie eine Art Ouvertüre das Album, das zwar kein Konzeptalbum ist, aber eben doch einander artverwandten Gedanken folgt. »I've got 25 dollars and 26 debts, 33 wagers and 52 bets [...] I burn every bridge when I'm halfway across, I tore up the ticket before my horse lost / This is some kind of madness deep down in my luck / I'm sad. I'm lucky. I'm fucked.« Al Rose fühlt sich wie der Narr auf dem Coverbild seines Albums. Und wenn er darüber singt, möchte man dieser makellosen, warm-weichen und zugleich kraftvollen Stimme stundenlang zuhören. Al Rose klingt wie ein Märchenerzähler, der dank einer Gitarre zum Troubadour geworden ist. 

Al Rose hat etwas mitzuteilen, und das tut er so intuitiv, dass der Gesang hier und da beinahe - aber nur beinahe - in Sprechgesang übergeht... Da, wo er in aller Stille, begleitet von zauberhaft klingender, genial einfallsreich gespielter Akustikgitarre über das sinniert, was gleich im Refrain mit Kraft und Überzeugung unterstrichen werden soll, da will er eigentlich gar nicht singen, so scheint es. Aber er kann sich nicht dagegen wehren. Die dezent eingesetzte Lap Steel 'verträumelt' den Klang noch ein wenig; und die Besen-Percussion ebnet genau den richtigen rhythmischen Weg für den Gesang. Der steht immer im Vordergrund und steuert die bei aller instrumentalen Reduziertheit erstaunlich ausgeprägten Spannungsbögen. 

Bei jedem weiteren Song kann man sich wahlweise den Verstand von unendlichen Details oder das Gefühl von dieser intuitiven musikalischen Erzählkunst bezirzen lassen. "I Feel Like A Million Dollars" beginnt mit drollig-dynamischem Picking, kommt dann fast mit einem Beach Boys-Refrain daher und entscheidet sich zum Schluss, dann doch lieber für Posaunen-Funk. Das Banjo-Stück "The Day Before The Infamy" mit wunderschönen Chor-Vocals verbreitet Country-Gänsehaut. "Scorpion Hills", "The Girl Who Whispered Wolf" und "The Amber Waves Have Let Me Down" sind wehmütig schimmernde Singer/Songwriter-Perlen. Und "I Hear The Sounds Of Laughing Lists" ist wieder so ein witziger Trotz-Song: Al Rose lässt sich von seiner unerledigten To-Do-Liste auslachen. Schlimme Halluzinationen sind das - schön, an ihnen teilhaben zu dürfen! 

Das tun wir in diesem konreten Fall mit einem Mix aus Singer/Songwriter-Strophe und Beatle'esk rockendem Refrain. Noch eine Überraschung: Das achteinhalbminütige Klavierstück "Sneaky Feelings" als Rausschmeißer ist ein lupenreines Gospelstück, in dem Al Rose in zahllosen Bildern und Metaphern über den 'kleinen Al' in der großen Welt sinniert. Klasse! Al Rose ist witzig und tiefsinnig. Die Melange aus Country, Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Rock und vielem mehr schmeichelt den Ohren; und die Texte amüsieren und beschäftigen das wabbelige Organ dazwischen. Überraschungen werden vom Gitarren- und Wortspieler frei Haus mitgeliefert... 

Ist es ein Zufall, dass ausgerechnet bei "Never Saw (!) It Coming" eine Säge mitspielt? Dieser 'sägenhafte' Song ist im Übrigen ein Highlight dieses Albums, das durchaus radiotauglich wäre. Die Harmonien sind wunderbar, die Melodie ist eindringlich, der Gesang fabelhaft - und diesen kleinen und großen Crescendos und Decrescendos zu folgen, die Al Rose teils nur mit seiner Stimme vollführt, das gibt einem den Glauben an hand(und stimm-)gemachte Musik zurück. Okay, vielleicht ist das doch 'zu gut' für die Allgemeinheit und Al Rose bleibt ein Geheimtipp für Besserhörer." 

—Boris Theobald, Rock Times, Germany 


"Afgaande op zijn teksten van de twaalf eigen liedjes op zijn zesde CD sinds zijn debuut in 1994, ‘Sad go lucky’ is singer-songwriter Al Rose uit Chicago, USA een eigenzinnig mens. Dat levert liedjes op met een geheel eigen invulling, zowel qua instrumentatie als tekstueel. Wat dat laatste betreft: in het walsje ‘They lowered the bar again’ begint Al als volgt: ‘I hear that you got a new blog, you’re tweeting about your new job, how you envy your daughter and you like drinking water and you burp up your eggs when you jog. How did I ever exist before I knew how much you piss? But your photo is hot on your profile, honey, now come here and give us a kiss’. Refrein: ‘They lowered the bar again, the shit’s flowing further downstream. We are dumber and dumber, good looking and younger is the brand new American dream’ . Anders dan anders, nietwaar?? 

In de begeleiding horen we behalve drums en bas gitaar, dobro, banjo, piano, orgel, ‘toy piano’, pedal steel, trombone, cello en zingende zaag. Er is vocale ondersteuning van een vijftal begeleiders. De arrangementen zijn zeer geraffineerd uitgewerkt, in het epos ‘I feel like a million dollars’ bijvoorbeeld is er een soort muzikaal gevecht te genieten van pedal steel met trombone. Na een aanval van de trombone vlucht de pedal steel luid krijsend weg, althans zo klinkt het en ik geniet er met volle teugen van. De zingende zaag speelt een hoofdrol in ‘Never saw it coming’, de dobro mag uitblinken in de titel track, de banjo in ‘The day before the infamy’ en piano en cello in ‘Scorpion hills’. 

Meer dan een uur eigenzinnige, maar uiterst genietbare muziek brengt deze Al Rose ons. Met een licht vibrerende stem en uitstekende instrumentale variatie schiet hij wat mij betreft in de roos. Als we de muziek moeten catalogiseren zou ik het folkpop met country- en rockrandjes willen noemen. En dan die teksten, ze zijn bijgeleverd en leveren een vrijwel permanente glimlach op. Well done, Al Rose, we houden je in de gaten."

—Real Roots Cafe, Holland

My First Posthumous Release

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“With a mixture of irreverence and soul, this veteran singer-songwriter just gets better, funnier and more plaintively incisive with each release. His latest, 'My First Posthumous Release', mixes blues, country and rock influences with off-hand ease, while crafting indelible imagery. How, after all, can anyone resist a song that begins, ‘The X-rays were embarrassing’?" 

— Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, September 2008 


“A tongue in cheek folk rock classic. Offbeat, funny and utterly compelling, it’s a superb introduction to a fiercely individual singer-songwriter." 

— Rock N' Reel Magazine, UK 


“Sans doute, ne le connaissiez-vous pas et voila que le titre de l’album vous fait croire qu’il est deja mort. Eh bien non, rassurez-vous, ce citoyen de Chicago ne fait que reprendre la bonne vieille blague de Townes Van Zandt avec son The Late Great Townes Van Zandt (1972). Accompagne par son groupe The Transcendos et un certain nombre d’autres musicians venant d’horizons varies, tells le tromboniste d’avant-garde Jeb Bishop ey le violiniste de swing gitan Steve Gibons, Al Rose propose un certain nombre de surprises dans ce qui pourrait n’etre qu’un album Americana de plus. C’est ainsi que Going Down The Mississippi, la premiere chanson, commence en country vintage se poursuit en country-rock et voit arriver un trombone au bout de 3 minutes. Dans la magnifique chanson I’m Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, on entend un tuba, un trombone et une scie musicale. Quant a Haiku Blues, c’est du tres bon hillbilly pur et dur, sauf que, une minute avant la fin, intervient le vibraphone de Mark Greenberg. Avec ce 5eme album, Al Rose affirme ses qualities en montrant que la musique qualifiee par le terme fourre-tout d’ “Americana” est capable de sotir d’une routine parfois pesante.” 

—Cri Du Coyote, January 2009 


"This is a record for people who like music. Not just roots music or country or pop or singer songwriter or chamber poetry hoedown breakdowns or anything else, but for people who actually like songs. And like geniuses. With funny phrasing." 

—Roctober, Issue No. 45 


"One of The Best Chicago Indie Releases of 2008. Perhaps in a different era, Rose would've been a fixture on the North Side folk circuit alongside John Prine and Steve Goodman. As it is, his sharply detailed, often wickedly witty songs easily shift among genre boundaries with luminously orchestrated arrangements. He's been doing it, and doing it well, for two decades." 

— Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, December 2008 


“Een fijn plaatje dat mij met een gunstige wind tegemoet komt waaien is deze cd van Al Rose, My First Posthumous Release, de vijfde reeds van deze singer-songwriter uit Chicago, en het moet gezegd, dit is werkelijk een geslaagd werkstukje! Ik had nog nooit van deze man gehoord, maar ben blij dat ik hem met dit album heb leren kennen. Aangename, melodieuze songs die geschikt zijn voor veelvuldige beluistering. De muzikale begeleiding van zijn band The Transcendos is zeer verzorgd en de arrangementen zijn soms veelgelaagd, met tal van instrumenten (pedal steel, tuba, viool, cello…) maar van overkill is er geen sprake; integendeel, het prachtige warme geluid maakt van deze plaat een coherent geheel. De teksten zijn af en toe wat cryptisch, dan weer grappig en gaan vooral over de manier waarop Al Rose zich een plaats probeert te vinden in deze voor hem soms verwarrende wereld. Het titelnummer is vrij ironisch, in deze song probeert hij zich in te beelden hoe zijn ‘loopbaan’ als artiest zich verder zou ontwikkelen na zijn dood. In het liedje Guilty Pleasure staat een leuke verwijzing naar Bob Dylans Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, dat hier geparafraseerd wordt als 'I'm stuck inside my mobile home with the fenced in blues again...’. Ha ha, goed geprobeerd Al, ik had het bijna niet gemerkt! Eén van de beste songs is de opener Down The Mississippi, waarin een mooie slide gitaar de show steelt. Een andere topper is I'm Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, een prachtige song die me soms een een beetje doet denken aan een begrafenismars, met een mooie tuba die de sfeer bepaalt. Het hoogtepunt van deze plaat is The Miracle Of Pain, een zeer mooie pianoballade, die alsmaar verder onder je vel kruipt na meerdere beluisteringen; hij is dan ook zeer sfeervol gearrangeerd met hier en daar een mooie viool en akoestische gitaar. Haiku Blues en Ruby Shade zijn twee countryrockers, waarvan de eerste wel erg veel leentjebuur heeft gespeeld bij de oersong Mystery Train, maar desondanks of beter gezegd net daardoor, heel goed is. De afsluiter is een soort van ‘net voor het slapen gaan ballade’, een mooi orgelpunt van deze heel geslaagde plaat. Van harte aanbevolen deze cd, zeker als je thuis ook iets in de kast hebt staan van meer gekende zielsgenoten als David Olney, Johnny Cash, Eric Andersen, Rodney Crowell en ook wel Graham Parker... (MV).” 

— MV, MazzMuzikas, March 2009

Gravity of Crow

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“Last year I made the mistake of proclaiming Ellen Rosner’s Count to 3 the masterpiece of the year in my March review. Then a month later I had to bite my tongue and make an identical statement about the Marvin Tate D-Settlement’s American Icons. By the time Strain Busy Sky’s Running with the Sun hit my ears I had to admit that I looked foolish. Al Rose’s new Gravity of Crow tempts me in the same way as Rosner, the D-Settlement, and S.B.S. and you’ll have to forgive my eagerness. But it’s all Rose’s fault.”

— Vern Hester, Windy City Times, March 2003 


“At his best, Rose writes intimate songs, bristling with sharp turns of phrase and a level of introspection that by itself would be worth venting accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar. But Rose doesn’t stop here. Gravity Of Crow, his fourth album, sidesteps categorizations that might befall less ambitious singers: ‘folk,’ ‘pop,’ ‘Dylan wanna be.’ The arranging on Gravity is as ambitious as Rose’s lyricism, an orchestral country-blues that magnifies and dramatizes his wordplay: the dark comedy of ‘Shut,’ to the majestic chorus of ‘Egg Me On.’ Too many would-be poets treat sonics as an afterthought, but with Rose his language was music.” 

— Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, February 2003 

“Like his idol, Bob Dylan, Rose is refreshingly literate in his approach. He has an engaging knack for linking words into phrases rife with imagery, allowing him to painting audio pictures which ride gently over subtle melodies.” Read the entire article… 

— Tom Lounges, January 2003 


“When you are Al Rose, you are going to tie […] things together and write (and arrange) songs that are going to stop listeners in their tracks. Rose does this on Gravity of Crow, his fourth disc.” Read the entire article… 

— Paul Barile,, January 2003 


“Gravity is one of those discs that offers little sonic surprises with every listen. Whether it is the feathery texture of a woman’s harmony vocal or jangly acoustic guitar fills, producers Rose and Blaise Barton have assembled 13 beautiful soundscapes.” Read the entire article… 

— Paul Barile,, January 2003 


“Listening to Al Rose is like standing in a huge gallery of abstract art. As you stare up at the paintings entitled, “Egg Me On”, “New Coat Of Paint”, and “Random Hollow Diesel Train”, you can’t help but wonder, “Am I the only one here who gets, or doesn’t get this?” Indeed, Al’s lyrics challenge description. So much of the joy is in following the words through frequent and mysterious twists and turn, brought masterfully together by Al’s unique and controlled voice. Throughout Gravity of Crow, Al shares his views on current and recurrent events with whimsy and imagery that occasionally dips intriguingly dark and cold. His powerful 

and passionate singing is supported by fine arrangements and polished production techniques which include the use of woodwinds, strings and dobro. As good as he is on this latest project, he’s best caught live. You won’t be disappointed. This is sophisticated, provocative listening, the kind of tunes that prompt you to “Rustle up the Mighty-O’s, cuz’ there’s orange juice at the silhouette.” While I didn’t know it when I first drew the comparison between Al’s music and abstract art, he is an accomplished artist.” 

— Singer Magazine, June 2003 


“One of the best of the best in Chicagoland… Rose is an exceptional wordsmith, with a penchant for Bob Dylan imagery” 

— Midwest Beat Magazine, October 2003 


“A spectacularly interesting independent artist that you shouldn't miss” 

— River Cities Reader

Pigeon's Throat



“A psychological analysis of Abraham Lincoln is not common subject matter for today’s singer-songwriters. Maybe a century ago, but not today. However, such is the strength of Rose’s songwriting that you are three minutes into digging the pop-blues vibe of ‘Lincoln’ before you realize it really is about Honest Abe. Al Rose is a sophisticated songwriter. He has an Elvis Costello-like vocal delivery and blends folk, jazz and country motifs into his multi-faceted sound. His powerful expression and intelligent writing draws in the listener with a hypnotist’s power. Rose’s backing band is The Transcendos and in that band is vocalist Laura Blye. Her gospel-tinged blues-based backing vocals add to the spell of ‘Pigeon’s Throat.’” [4 out of 5 rating] 

— Tom "Tearaway" Schulte, Outsight Magazine, Detroit, March 4, 2000 


“The third album from folk artist Al Rose is an intricate knot work of metaphors and lyrical turns of phrase. He paints each song with such depth sometimes the result leaves the listener a bit acrophobic. Other times he knows just the right point in which to ground us with pointedly simplistic lines such as the finishing words of ‘Metaphor’ where he reminds us that “sometimes a scar is just a scar.” He balances the complexity of his verse with unadorned melodies and the delivery of a spoken word artist. 

— Ellen Stenard,, February 28, 2000

Naked In A Trailer



“As a singer/sewing machine, Al Rose counts his influences in all the major food groups…. Dylan, Neil Young, Lou Reed, writer Henry Miller, painters Chagall, Soutine… Coltrane… a good strong cup of coffee… a glass of wine… and raw and cooked garlic.” 

— Dominick A. Miserandino, The Celebrity, July 19, 1999


“Every once in a while, a folk artist takes a genuinely new viewpoint and carries it to its limits. Jim Infantino and Faith Soloway illustrate such integrity of vision. So does Al Rose. Let’s not invoke the name of every important new voice of the last 30 years; there’s no way of knowing if this guy is or wants to be the next Leonard Cohen, or whoever. Instead, here’s a look at Al Rose’s CD, Naked in a Trailer.” Read the entire article… 

— Marilyn Rea Beyer, New England Folk Almanac Review, Winter 1998 


“With his acoustic songcraft and love of wordplay, this veteran local performer might have been right at home in an Old Town coffeehouse, circa 1972. But Rose has far grander ambitions, and though they sometimes get the better of him, Naked In A Trailer is one audaciously entertaining ride. Rose sometimes overreaches with pseudo-poetic lyrics and too-busy arrangements, but he scores with moments of surreal insight and a bemused outsider’s wit. Oddly charming melodies emerge from a varied bed of settings, incorporating everything from gospel to progressive jazz.” 

— Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 17, 1997 


“In today’s “alternative” music scene, being different is about as mainstream as wearing Levis. As long as musicians are different in just the right way, they have a chance to make it to the top-ten charts, but this leaves little room for artists who are truly alternative, like Al Rose.” 

— Michael Maiese, Strong Coffee, Vol. VII No. 4-5, Jan. 1997 


“Al Rose, the undisputed king of Chicago quirk, has taken a giant step forward on his second record, Naked In A Trailer. Surrealist visions abound while Rose’s backing band, The Transcendos, empathically match his slow, low, rise style. Uncompromising songcraft that haunts and goads, this record is filled with metaphors, signifiers and overt symbolism. On “Channel To Channel” the vapid, addictive evils of cable TV are described in frighteningly lurid terms. The personal crisis of a starving artist is laid bare on the title cut as he sings, “Could I make it as a tailor with a scissors and a cloth? Or will I be naked in a trailer with a gun inside my mouth.” While Rose’s lyrics demand serious attention and are always the focal point of his songs, the Transcendos’ organic, instrumental accompaniment is just too strong to be ignored. Heath Chappell on drums and Steve Hashimoto on bass are as fine a rhythm section as Chicago has to offer and the harmonies of Laura Blye are no less than angelic. Yes, Chicago’s visionary tractor man has tilled the songwriter’s soil and unleashed his idiosyncratic folka-rocka-boom on the innocent masses. Not a moment too soon, either.” 

— Mitch Myers, Manhattan Mirror, August 1996

Information Overload


“Try to think of Jack Kerouac walking around with the original ‘On The Road’ manuscript on a 120-foot roll of typewriter paper under his arm. He marched from publisher to publisher and faced numerous rejections, aching and struggling to get his work printed somewhere. Kerouac’s was an uphill battle that must have seemed quite hopeless. Al Rose is in a somewhat similar position, at the mercy of booking agents, club owners and record companies that don’t appreciate his work as much as they should. Most of us aren’t interested in unknown artists until someone else notices them first. Nonconformity is never an easy sell until after it has been properly packaged.” Read the entire article… 

— Mitch Myers, Manhattan Mirror, August 1995

Media Quotes

“With his Transcendos, Rose blurs musical boundaries while singing some of the sharpest, wittiest lyrics this side of Nas.” 

— Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune 


“Al Rose is certainly one of the best songwriters of his time…[Pigeon’s Throat is] an album that contains some of the finest instrumental, vocal, lyrical and original content that well deserves international attention.” 

— Downeast Reviews 


“...a platinum wordsmith who specializes in stacking realities one on top of another. His sublimely incoherent rant and roll sends images splattering like paint on a Jackson Pollack canvas.” 

— Manhattan Mirror 


“Overall, Naked is hypnotic, swelling and receding like the tide. It’s influenced by folk, jazz, psychedelic rock, blues, county, gospel, and music from the Far East, but it sounds like nothing else. Rose is a talent to watch.” 

— Swing 


“Naked In A Trailer is one audaciously entertaining ride. He scores with moments of surreal insight and a bemused outsider’s wit. Oddly charming melodies emerge from a varied bed of settings, incorporating everything from gospel to progressive jazz.” 

— Chicago Tribune 


“The lyric refuses to cohere into a simple sense, yet remains sensible. Rose can also support an extended voyage into the heart of his challenging musical and lyrical universe. His music is a strange, sometimes dissonant, melange of folk and rock, but the main attraction is his perverse talent for molding assemblages of twisted lyrical cliches into surprising new configurations.” 

— Crossroads 


“He once again proves himself a poet, creating strong images with meanings that are not literal. Trying to label the music leads only to furrowed brows and complexity. Rose knows well what it means for form to follow function.” 

— Strong Coffee 


“Rose has managed to keep true with his musical views. The tunes are very earthy, organic and, at times, hypnotic. There is a sense of darkness to all of Rose’s songs. But that’s what gives the music its charm.” 

— Deseret News (Salt Lake City) 


“ irreverent stream of consciousness that plays off the rhythm of words as much as their meaning…” 

— Chicago Tribune 


“The tunes on this collection are engaging and fun, and illustrative of Rose’s quirky style of songwriting…off-kilter viewpoints, creatively delivered by Rose’s rough-and-tumble voice in a variety of musical styles ranging from rock and country to reggae and soul.” 

— Illinois Entertainer 


“A jazzy explosion of musical inventiveness.” 

— Windy City Times, Chicago 


“...a meaty blend of bleak Midwestern desperation and spoken-word folk.” 

— New City, Chicago 


“With a pungent, bemused view of the world that translates into some really great songs, Rose manages to convey the possibility of hope without denying the gritty reality of right now. And he’s groovy as hell; he’ll make you dance your pants off.” 

— Chicago Magazine 


“Rose’s imagination does not end with his lyrics…the arrangements on his songs are phenomenal.” 

— River Cities Reader 


“A funky, jazzy and rocking romp…this album is a blast…” 

— Rock Central, Madison, Wisconsin 


“[On] Information Overload Rose mixes the sounds of jazz, rock, and Latin and Caribbean rhythms. The result is simply mesmerizing.” 

— The Observer, Augustana College, Rock Island 


“This upbeat release almost sounds like a gospel Midnight Oil.” 

— Tail Spins, Chicago 


“His honest, poetic lyrics paint an often too vivid picture of our society. But…Rose’s calm, trusted voice soars above the words and assures you everything’s really going to be alright.” 

— The Argus, Illinois Wesleyan College 


“Like a caffeine buzz, this disc is humming with energy.” 

— Rock Island Argus 


“...a compelling brew of folk-jazz…” 

— Chicago Sun-Times 


“If folkie Al Rose led a heavy metal band, he would truly be dangerous. Rose writes lyrics like a deranged mental patient wandering down the street spouting epithets that either fascinate passers-by or makes them recoil in horror.” 

— Oil