Granted, "Blue Ridge Blood" isn't a particularly soothing listen. Chelle Rose's somber vocal and harrowing melodies suggest the sound of dark clouds hovering just above the horizon, a scenario that's not about to disperse any time soon. Then again, she had her own hazards to deal with, most particularly a thyroid disease that went undiagnosed for an extended period of time. There were also family troubles she came to grips with, specifically relationships that had long been torn asunder and only recently repaired.
This is the sort of turmoil that informs "Blue Ridge Blood," an ominous and oftentimes unsettling set of songs grounded in an unflinching attitude and rugged insurgence. "Momma always wanted me sing pretty/Hurts her to hear the pain that I pour out," Rose sings in the album's most vulnerable ballad, "Sing Pretty." Likewise, the title track, a song featuring the adept fretwork of Buddy Miller, finds her reflecting on the uncertainties that plagued her early on.
Elsewhere however, she finds a certain defiance. That's especially evident on "Gypsy Rubye" and "Not Your Girl," the latter of which has her declaring her independence, shoring up her spirit and refusing to back down.
Rose, like others of her ilk - Mary Gauthier and Shelby Lynne in particular - has the ability to mix defiance and distress in equal measure, creating a singular style that consistently brings her pain and emotion to the surface. Yet, there's also a sense of salvation that emanates from this music, a feeling that despite the adversity, Rose is a survivor and one who doesn't take her challenges lightly. That makes "Blue Ridge Blood" an especially formidable piece of work, one likely to ensure Rose and her music will continue to resonate without remorse.