The Rosie Varela Project – What Remains

Take Rosie Varela’s debut solo LP out of context and you might be surprised to know she is one of the creative masterminds behind El Paso’s EEP. The Rosie Varela Project was created to be a vessel for songs that didn’t quite fit with EEP and this distinction is surely warranted. These songs are more tangible, the payoff is more immediate, and the appeal is more concrete. What Remains is an LP of psych-pop proportions that isn’t afraid to emphasize the pop component.

But there’s certainly a shared core between this record and EEP’s work. Lyrics repeat in droning fashion, vocals are glossed in effects, production is crisp, and there are dream pop tendencies strewn about. But here, Varela feels more unfiltered, pun intended. There’s added clarity to her vocal delivery that makes you appreciate her timbre and inflection even more. And this is where the hooks of the songs become exposed so plainly.

Despite this being branded a solo project of sorts, there are a host of collaborators on both the ‘band’ and production side. Even so, Varela uses her freedom her to speak more matter-of-factly regarding her life as a woman in the arts. It’s distinctly her voice, but at the same time it’s a voice for the female populace.

The first time they grab you unaware

The first time they warn you not to tell

The first time they grab you unaware

Your scream becomes a lock in your throat

The veils drop on that little girl

The world hears this song

Over and over again

We have to have each other‘s backs

For what remains

For what remains

The album’s calm exterior and dreamy vocals dress sentiments of objectification, manipulation, and finding community with a certain bright quality. Varela nonetheless channels her best Stevie Nicks-level confidence as she takes these topics head on. And while the lyrics might be a bit too blunt to some, it’s welcome to have things spelled out so clearly in a genre with a history of avoidant lyrics.

Ultimately, this album is a good companion piece to EEP’s discography. There’s enough consistency to pull existing fans over, but the lyrical slant and more direct nature of the songs opens things up to a new series of fans as well. It’s experimental and hazy, but the lyrics here speak to a real pain and collective struggle. And while suffering on its own is hardly a creative asset, as if pain were something to be marketed, Varela redeems a variety of difficult circumstances through endearing arrangements. If you’re looking for an album with a bedroom feel and studio production, this is it.

Find The Rosie Varela Project on Bandcamp, Facebook, and Instagram.

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