Melbourne’s Gena Rose Bruce is a rising star who has the potential to go all the way. Aside from taking out first prize in the 2013 Telstra Road to Discovery competition, there’s been a performance at the Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth, a trip to Nashville to dip her toe in the water, and now the release of her debut CD ‘Wild One Babe’. Amongst a surplus of female singer / songwriters, Gina Rose Bruce possesses those few extra qualities that separate her from the pack. She has a voice that is sweet and likeable with immense appeal – yet if you are expecting cutesy or syrupy – think again. Here is a 20 year old fusing her love of country/folk/grunge/pop with a lyrical depth that belies her years, creating an alt. country sound (for want of a better term) that is all her own. Of the five tracks on this EP, there’s plenty of highpoints. Opening with the rambling ‘Jackson’, this is a ride for the broken hearted down Americana road, with guitar tones evoking images of sweeping plains, and a strong hooky chorus pinned by sweet vocals. The unpretentiousness of ‘I Need A Boyfriend’ follows, and it has a plaintive, toe-tapping charm all of its own, before diving headlong into the frolicking rollicking stomp of ‘What We Want’. Draped in 60’s pop sensibilities and awash with Hammond organ, guitars that echo and a shrill voice that reaches the summit, particularly on the chorus. With only acoustic guitar and vocal, the pared back title tune ‘Wild One Babe’ is further example of Bruce’s affable charm as both melodic songwriter and songbird, with lyrics that hint at a darker side. ‘Old Love’ is my highpoint though, and the tune that first hipped me to her. Lyrically, it’s a bitter sweet song about breaking up, yet musically, it’s more profound than that. What starts out as a humble country ballad rises and falls like a roller-coaster with an infectious chorus and an impassioned vocal delivery that is nothing short of superb. If any of the current crop of major label female country artists had of released this tune it would still be in the charts with a bullet. Yes chum, it’s that good. Whilst Lana Del Ray may be an influence on Gena Rose, vocally, Susanna Hoffs is perhaps a more apt comparison. She certainly has the honeyed tones with a range that rises almost to falsetto. She has the songs, the talent, the looks, a gorgeous voice – and the potential to find a niche for herself above the aforementioned surplus of female singer / songwriters. 5 out of 5.