Photo: Olaf Grind

Blake Rose

When Perth, Australia-born singer-songwriter Blake Rose arrived at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom for his recent headline debut in the city, he was greeted by three fans, who, at 3:30 p.m., were already queued up at the front of the line. They were chill, and offered him a casual, “Heyyyyyy” as he walked over to them. “Hi guys, how are you? Let me know if you need anything,” Rose responded as he made his way into the building, his appreciation abundant.

Rose, who burst onto the scene in 2020 with breakout single “Lost,” has spent the last few years opening for the likes of Noah Kahan, Ashe, and Lauren Spencer Smith. He, like, say, a Gavin DeGraw or a Ben Rector, is seen as a foolproof, quality option for these slots, but this time around, was out there as the headliner in support of his new EP Suddenly Okay.

@ The Bowery Ballroom 

From observing Ashe’s pre-and-post show interactions with her fans to picking up on Noah Kahan’s physical mannerisms, Rose has collected bits and pieces of each artist he has observed and applied them to his own performance. Now, he gets to lead opener Max McNown, the newest young Zach Bryan disciple in the country scene, to learn how to operate onstage. “I hadn’t even properly thought about that until… kinda right now,” he said with a laugh. “Headlining was always a goal… but I never thought I’d have someone opening that might learn things from me.”

Later in the night, aspects of Rose’s show were not just permissible for McNown, but visually and aesthetically appealing for fans. He seamlessly transitioned on and off drums, was almost unnaturally pitch perfect on “Lady,” and stepped down into the crowd for an acoustic, unamplified version of “Gone.” With his eyes closed, he slowly, systematically turned his body to give each person in the room a straight shot of his unplugged vocals. The quiet in the room, apart from a photographer clicking away in the back by the bar, allowed his voice to bounce off the walls.

Photo: Wei Chung

Happy Accidents 

Advice from an elder named Daphne during his busking days in Perth allowed him to grow more confident in his singing ability, and he quickly learned to become a sort of vocal technician. Songs like “Lost,” with its jump from pure head mix to straight chest belt in the chorus as the song progresses, and “Movie,” with, arguably, the most challenging vocal arrangement of his catalog, reflect the work he has put in to get there.

“I usually start with general layering… dubs, overdubs,” he said. “Harmony is huge. It really depends on the song, cause some songs I barely do anything on. I just work through feeling an emotion with it. I’ll try stuff, but then I’ll just jam. Sometimes I land on happy accidents.”

Happy accidents while writing, recording, and producing have led to an already diverse catalog of songs, such as the stomp-claps of “Casanova,” the arena-rock bite of “Don’t Stop The Car,” electronic elements of “Rollerblades,” and an Imagine Dragons replica with “Hotel Room.” “I don’t try to do certain things half the time,” he said. “But usually, it ends up blending a few different kinds of styles of music. I’m proud of that… of being able to incorporate so many different things into what is, essentially, indie pop, and still make it feel tasteful. Like there’s depth to it.“

Rose’s lyricism, and the framing of his lyrics, is that of an artist with a more nuanced, non-provocative or prevocational perception of love and romance. Perhaps an unsuspecting Lothario discovering how to play the game (“Casanova,”), or a reflective and self-inflicted feelings hoarder (“Hearts A Mess.”) He admits many of the songs released thus far have not directly correlated with his own experiences, but rather that of the people around him, or, at the very least, “what if?” stories.

Photo: Olaf Grind

Suddenly Okay 

Suddenly Okay, the first of three EPs to come this year, showcases a more intimate dose of his reality. “The collective group of EPs are all based on my experiences with love,” he said. “This is me diving into my experience with it more so than I have in the past.” He opted to not release a full album and was against the idea of dropping a myriad of singles, which led to three bite-sized projects. “I had a bunch of songs that I felt I couldn’t put on the same record,” he continued. “It wouldn’t give them their own space. But, over the course of three, I can fit them in. This really helped me find a way to utilize all of this music that I love.”

The title track, which contains similar thematic elements to John Mayer’s “Still Feel Like Your Man,” cites his inability to move on, or even function normally, post-breakup: “I’ve tried the most to overdose/ Your Instagram’s of leaves I smoke/ To torture myself, I suppose (I suppose)/ I sleep with your pillow under my arm… it feels like you, it keeps me calm/ Know I gotta move on, but not today, no, not today.”

“I feel like, objectively, it’s not good to hold onto stuff like that if you’re trying to move on,” he said. “It’s kind of just a constant reminder. At the same time, it’s really just dependant on the relationship. Sometimes you don’t want to forget. It’s still a part of your life that was meaningful.”

“How Do We Stay In Love,’ “Never Let Go,” and “Last Walk Home” round out the EP. “How Do We…” is a direct, no-frills ballad with a runtime of just about two-and-a-half minutes, while “Last Walk Home,” even at only 30 seconds longer, feels fuller. More of a statement piece, with a sense of finality: “If we could do it all again, my love/ You wouldn’t even have to ask it/ Cause it was beautiful while it lasted.”

“’Last Walk Home’ is about offering peace of mind, and closure somewhat, in the sense of knowing that this chapter needs to close for now,” he said. “If life, or the universe somehow brings it back around, it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen. IF it happens. I think it was just about the acceptance side of the situation.”

Tall Poppy Syndrome

The musicianship, stagecraft, and vocal aptitude that Rose displayed onstage on this recent tour will, unfortunately, fail to travel far past the eyes and ears of those who know him… know what he does. He was able to broaden his reach further with a performance of his song “Dizzy” on The Late Late Show With James Corden a number of years ago, during which he showed off more of his skillset than was required or even expected, but, even with that, he is, by all accounts, still a name vying for recognition.

“I think things will happen when they are meant to happen,” he said. “I’m an Australian with Tall Poppy Syndrome (Defined by Refinery29 as: ‘The tendency to criticize or resent people who are successful, especially if they are seen as being arrogant’), who is reluctant to say, ‘Yeah, I deserve this.’ It’s not in my blood to think like that. I’m confident in the work that I’m making. I want people to hear it when they hear it, and I’m just going to keep trying my best to keep pushing it and get people onboard.”

Stream Suddenly Okay: