We're posting our favorite Bay Area albums of 2018 every weekday through Dec. 14. Check here to see who else made the list.
One of the strangest and most thrilling records to emerge from the Bay Area's indie rock scene this year, Rose Droll's Your Dog (Father/Daughter Records) is an economic album born of necessity.
Droll found herself with too many lyrics to fit into a melody, so she developed a whispery, spoken-word style of rapping that recalls folky genre-benders like Beck and Regina Spektor. Because she lived in a thin-walled apartment with roommates during Your Dog's creation, she couldn't write the album with the assistance of a drum kit or amps: instead, the dominant instrument became her acoustic guitar, played in a percussive style that utilizes the thump of Droll's palm and the shing of her fingers sliding down the strings.
Droll's intriguing style of beat-driven, bedroom folk-rock parses her coming-of-age move to San Francisco from Modesto, leaving her devout, Christian community behind and discovering herself through art and love. "Hush," which starts with a chorus of "This little light of mine," hits the hardest beat change since Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" as Droll delivers a hurried verse to a lover who can't get their shit together. Her whispered confessions feel intimate, beckoning the listener to lean in closer.
Droll, who played all the instruments on Your Dog, including cello, glockenspiel and piano, is the type of multi-instrumentalist who moves with an inherent musicality. Her gifts for melody are most apparent on "Happy Kitten" and "Fat Duck," where she breaks from the dense blocks of words and gives her raspy singing voice space to breath. "I don't have money for the things I think I need / And it takes too much to think of you and me," she sings on "Happy Kitten" before launching into a yearning, open-throated chorus that tugs at the heartstrings.
At a time when much of pop music feels like fast fashion, Droll takes a refreshingly homespun approach, and she impresses with what she's able to accomplish with little assistance. Your Dog strikes a delicate balance of D.I.Y. and polish, and flexes Droll's quiet yet mighty powers as a songwriter and producer.