Sweet, Serene Isabel LaRosa & Her Not-Too-Sweet, Not-Too-Serene, Perfect EP

When Isabel LaRosa performed an unreleased song while supporting Nessa Barrett on tour earlier this month, we found ourselves in her tight, impassioned, harmonious grip.

The ebb-and-flow of the pop rock genre is what puts stars on the map. Sure, others fly under the radar, but their time comes and it is well-deserved. In the early eighties, Madonna didn’t shoot out of a cannon as the Queen of Pop – she became it after rock bands and dance hits helped her evolve. In the early 2000s, Miley Cyrus wasn’t the immediate mainstream songstress we know today – she was Hannah Montana with her country roots and punk rock backing band. Now, in the early 2020s, we have Isabel LaRosa, a slow burn of an alternative rock meets power pop performer whose time has arrived with a new EP, YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU. The Maryland native sparkles on the mini-record, out today, and expands beautifully on the wise, yet youthful aesthetic that she’s honed in on over the last couple of years. She is not just a viral sensation, the opener for Nessa Barrett’s headlining tour, or the next Olivia Rodrigo. Isabel LaRosa is Isabel LaRosa – fiercely on her own path.

On stage at Terminal 5, the “i’m yours” singer zipped around on stage alongside her brother and guitarist, using her evident thrill, gratefulness, and energy to her advantage, Her stage presence alone was enough, and still is enough, to create new fans out of new listeners and first-timers. Her voice rarely wavered with her most raw emotions on her sleeve and her inner glow (which is a mix of talent, angst, and appreciation) taking center stage. You couldn’t help but be caught up in the performance, the original music, the Katy Perry cover, the simple yet ethereal lighting, and the miraculous young artistry. The NYC display of talent alongside Barrett for the Young Forever Tour – an emotional rollercoaster in the most female-fronted, powerhouse way – opened us, and so many, up to the idea of being LaRosa’s No. 1 fan. (She snuck “praying” into her set before the new record dropped and gave us some nineties-era soprano vocals, Gwen Stefani vibes. The studio version, though? That’s a Charli XCX-tinged banger. Experiencing both in the same month without expectation is something we’re grateful for and you all need to listen to and understand. Whew, Isabel – keep it coming.)

We stayed up until midnight like the best of the best to get the full EP release experience. It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with the alt pop crooning, swooning, sparkling, and twinkling that she has going on – even in the middle of the night. One first listen to the 13-minute release, you want more. You want “butterflies” to run longer than two minutes and 25 seconds. You want the thumping back beats of “i don’t forgive you” to reverberate in your brain forever. You want a video for every single one of the emotionally-charged songs – not just the swirling darkness of “more than friends.”

By the way, she wrote and directed the video, too; a pseudo-HBO-YA-genre backdrop and homage that perfectly fits the tone of the record, the energy of her live shows, and the feelings in her heart.

You don’t just want to listen to this EP again from the top after that first listen – you need to listen again… during the day, driving around, singing along with a hairbrush in the mirror, with your friends, in a show, at a party. The narratives are relatable; young love and first impressions and honesty and sensuality reign supreme. Layered instrumentation of electric guitars and growling synths sound ethereal while the lyrics ground you in reality.

On YOU FEAR THE GOD THAT LOVES YOU, an appropriately all-caps, goosebump-inducing title for this release, Isabel LaRosa skirts around the line of the aforementioned Rodrigo’s storytelling and the beloved Lana Del Rey’s clever lyricism to be her own strong, viable performer. As seen at Terminal 5 and as heard on the EP, LaRosa is witty. She is gracious, unforgiving, and green in all the best ways a budding superstar can be. New music is here, her time is coming, and the world of pop rock genre-defiers is ever ready for the gritty kind of hopeless romantic stylings that this singer-songwriter brings.