a literary review
Sarah Potenza’s 2019 release Road To Rome offers a formidable artillery of empowering blues and R & B anthems. With help from her husband Ian Crossman (lead guitar, co-writer), as well as friend Justin Wiseman (co-writer), Potenza’s follow-up to 2016’s Monster is a 10-track tour de force. Garnering well-deserved praise from publications such as Rolling Stone, Pop Dust, Billboard, and Glide Magazine, Road To Rome is intense and inspiring, with a vital feminist message: pick yourself right back up when you’re down, be your own person, and own your confidence.
Right away, Potenza asserts her identity as a strong and determined woman. The record kicks off with “I Work For Me,” an ode to the independent spirit. “I don’t need your job I got my own,” she proclaims as she belts out lines about finding success and self-worth in a male-dominated field. This theme continues with “Who Do I Think I Am,” which thunders with pride and faith in the power of writing. She boasts, “things change real fast when a small pen makes a big flash.” It’s the perfect song for anyone who is on the road to self-empowerment, but especially for women who have long been underrepresented in the music industry. The subtle organ and funky beat supply this song with a magnetic quirkiness that makes you want to play it on repeat.
Potenza’s tender ballads show a balance between her raw, emotional talent and her strength and gusto as a performer. Among these softer songs on Road To Rome is “Earthquake,” an emotionally-charged apology song. Her stunning vocals maintain their strength even in this moment of regret. “Worthy” is yet another gorgeous showcase of Potenza’s vocal prowess. “It’s been so hard to feel worthy,” she admits–a feeling that is easy to relate to and hard to say out loud. Road To Rome is the story of a woman who has come far in life’s journey, and these ballads offer the proof that she will keep going.
The album concludes with the title track, “Road To Rome,” which brings out Potenza’s Americana songwriting roots. The line, “fear is a liar and I’ve been a fool,” could bring a broken woman to tears, and simultaneously inspire her to wipe those tears away and shine. The progression of the song (Could you describe it, something like: beginning as it does with a major chord before walking bass notes to the minor. I know this example isn’t good, but you get the idea) feels like starting at the bottom, and climbing to the mountaintop. “Road To Rome” is a triumphant finish to an honest, uplifting album, and Sarah Potenza once again shows that she is a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary Americana scene.