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La Rocca: Americana, By Way Of Ireland

When La Rocca released The Truth in 2006, the Irish group fit the description of many young, vibrant European pop bands, complete with infectious melodies, poppy keyboards and shiny production. But its attempts at Americana bordered on caricature, going so far as to feature saloon pianos and Old West settings.

After three years in Los Angeles, however, La Rocca has grown past camp. On its recent album OK Okay, and the song "Roadway Hymn" in particular, Europop gives way to rootsier influences. The track's subtle piano arrangements, country-guitar twang and unexpected blast of harmonica demonstrate a deep affection for Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen. Bjorn Bailie's fragile vocals bring a touch of blue-eyed soul, while multipart harmonies add warmth. The entire album demonstrates tremendous growth in terms of instrumentation and lyricism, but La Rocca's real talent lies in its evolving ability to write a great melody.

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Caroline Evans