Wee entrée to today’s main course…
Chuck Eddy: Girl named Rose in tattered dress born in weed-strewn trailer park to teen Mom with presumably drug-related “habit”, winds up with “real nice” and presumably higher class couple “across the county line” who haven’t had much luck coming up with offspring of their own; blossoms like a rose growing through concrete in Spanish Harlem except this is the white trash version, not to mention a do-gooder pro-adoption (hence implicitly anti-abortion) P.S.A. Still, as inspiring an upswoop as Trisha Yearwood ever managed in the ’90s — best country single I’ve heard so far this year.
Katherine St Asaph: On paper it looks like just another inspirational bit, destined for play in contemporary churches and Idol Gives Back. Thankfully, it cuts the glurge (instant adoption as cure-all for broken home, token drug use and prostitution, given name second only to Hope for obvious symbolism) with enough specific details, mainly in the first verse, and Martina-like likability for the song not to cloy. Much.
Martin Skidmore: I like the fairly trad country arrangement, and she has a pleasant voice, though I like it less in the higher register. I’m not sure the vague and rather sentimental song amounts to much, but it’s very listenable.
Michaelangelo Matos: I might enjoy this as kitsch if it weren’t so totally wrongheaded. No, singer-person, you do not make a very convincing social worker. Who else would precede “Between the habit and the job that her mama had” with “Fragile little Rose had to grow up fast.” Who the hell refers to a child as “fragile” at the beginning of the sentence? Anyway, this is a feel-good soap opera about a 16-year-old mom whose kid is taken away and put into nice middle-class home (presumably where nothing ever goes wrong). As in, “We rescued that child in the nick of time/Found a real nice couple ‘cross the county line/Who’d been trying to have a little girl of their own/And would give anything to give a little Rose a home.” Rose, of course, has “tangled curls,” because the social workers took the kid right from her mother to the real nice couple without bathing her or combing her hair.
Iain Mew: This is oh so pretty, with pedal steel on overdrive, but there’s something missing from the tale. The distance between “I’ve never seen a situation half that bad” and salvation seems so small, everything so breezy, that there’s never any tension at all. What’s surely meant to be hard-won success feels inevitable from the start and it’s a bit too fluffy as a result.
Jonathan Bogart: Before I decide whether I love or hate this song, I need to know who Mallary means by “we.” Who is the mysterious entity that rescues that child in the nick of time, finds a real nice couple across the county line, and hectors us to give her rain, sun, and all our love? Child Protective Services? The courts? The local do-gooder’s union at the church on the right side of the tracks? And what’s the mama with the habit and the job have to say about any of this? (Interesting that the double-wide with the old car in front is a condemnatory image here, where it’s a nostalgic one in much modern country.) It’s not that I’m against adoption — quite the opposite — but I’m suffocated by what I can only call the self-congratulatory whiteness of the song, the sense that the Real Nice Couple (and, by extension, the upstanding, community-pillar country audience) is necessary for Rose to blossom; she herself (not to mention her mother) is entirely free of agency in this little parable. Plus the metaphor’s mixed — she’s not blossoming in the dust, you’ve plucked her up and replanted her in a walled garden. What I really want to hear is the song Rose would sing about it all.
Ian Mathers: I am fully willing to accept that my uneasiness with the lyrics here has more to do with cynical ol’ me than with any actual fault on Hope’s part. Some small part of it is Hope’s extremely generic female country singer voice (I can’t tell them apart any more than I can death metal singers), which causes the knee-jerk part of my brain to watch warily for the moment when the song turns into some sort of Tea Party polemic. Which, whatever her actual political sympathies, is pretty damn unfair to the singer; “Blossom in the Dust” is nothing more complicated than a straightforwardly decent paean to, essentially, rescuing a child, and Hope sings the hell out of the chorus. It’s disturbing that positive sentiment presented so directly bothers some part of me, and that might be the most valuable thing (for me, at least) about the song.
Anthony Easton: I really don’t like the voice here. Plus, it has a coyness which I think is against the spirit of country music.