“White Roses” is as simple as a song is likely to be in 2013—a plainly strummed acoustic instrument, a delicate tenor voice, three verses and three choruses, over and done in three minutes, sixteen seconds. The lyrics too are plainspoken in the extreme; De La Cruz has a previously explicated talent for compositional austerity, otherwise known as having a way with one-syllable words. (For instance: in the last version of the chorus, 20 of 22 words have one syllable; the other two are “roses” and “listen.”)
Now then, simplicity doesn’t guarantee quality any more than complexity does. But the high-wire act of coming to us with just a nylon-stringed guitar and a voice and a satchel full of plain words is itself impressive; that De La Cruz manages to add genuine beauty into the equation renders the end product all but breathtaking. To begin with, the melody is gorgeous, and deceptively deep. The entire verse and chorus is one unbroken melody line, with an elegant transition that leaves the verse unresolved and sets up the chorus’s beautiful inevitability, complete with a lovely bit of major/minor drama—how the uplifting “I still saw it was you” part (0:44) veers into the minor-key “coming through” (0:48) addendum, before cycling resolutely back to a gentle major key.
And perhaps the most beautiful thing of all here are the female harmony vocals. Four singers are credited, and they slide into place so gracefully, only in the chorus, and sing with such sweet subdued finesse, and are so apt in tone and intent, that you might almost miss them even as they are fully audible and perhaps the song’s greatest asset.
“White Roses” is from the album Common Miracles, which De La Cruz released at the end of May. You can hear the whole thing on Bandcamp, and buy it there on a name-your-price basis. You can download “White Roses” via the link above, as usual, or do it via SoundCloud, where you can leave a comment directly for De La Cruz, if you so desire. The Southern California-based singer/songwriter was featured previously on Fingertips in January 2011.