Flourish’s strength in emotion

Sacramento singer Amber DeLaRosa unleashes waves of powerful feelings

Amber DeLaRosa, looking away.

Amber DeLaRosa, looking away.

Photo courtesy of Xing Liu

Catch Flourish at 8:30 p.m. Friday, September 30, at Naked Lounge,1111 H Street. Passing Time, Forget It and Pastel Dream are also on the bill. Tickets cost $5. More at www.facebook.com/flourishtheband.

Something typically rare has become somewhat standard for Amber DeLaRosa: new fans approach her after shows and repeat DeLaRosa’s lyrics.

It’s not because of any confusing messages or obscure metaphors. If anything, DeLaRosa, the singer-songwriter for alternative band Flourish, spells out brutally plain truths. Her unfiltered emotions build her songs, which wrestle with the darkest times in her life. She sings about surviving sexual abuse, feeling neglected growing up and having parents with mental disorders. Even her love songs contain the shadow of these experiences.

“As I’m getting older, I’m starting to process it and use it a lot for my art,” the 22-year-old says, referring to her rocky childhood. “I feel lucky to now be able to sing about them.”

Girls, in particular, tend to find her after shows and express how they relate to her struggles, she says. They share in solidarity.

“It’s cathartic to be able to heal with people in that way,” DeLaRosa says. “You feel less alone.”

DeLaRosa grew up in Citrus Heights, constantly clutching the guitar her absent father left behind. She started writing songs in middle school and still goes through the same process: something hits her, she grabs her guitar, she weeps, she sings.

At age 18, she moved to Sacramento, frequented the open-mic circuit and formed Flourish in 2014 with core members and fellow guitarists Anthony Gomez and Pat Hills.

In the Flourish’s beginning, the group was tasked with making DeLaRosa’s prewritten solo stuff work as a full band.

“I knew in my head we could make them big,” she says, laughing. Her bandmates? Not so easily convinced.

But now it’s tough to imagine the songs on Flourish’s debut EP, Everyone I Love, stripped down. They’re massive, moving cascades of sound: emotional crescendos, unbridled angst and drums like a nervous heartbeat. Throughout, DeLaRosa’s distinctive, powerful voice carries the torch—you don’t know where it’s going, but you never want to stop following it. She hits painfully beautiful falsettos, then wobbles like she’s trying with all her might not to fall apart.

Everyone I Love came out just shy of a year ago, and Flourish has collaboratively written lots of new material since then. With this new batch, which will likely make up the band’s first full-length, DeLaRosa moves away from feelings of anger and more into a subdued, melancholy state. On Friday, September 30, at Naked Lounge, the group will release two singles, “Sink” and “Buildings,” songs born out of a time of transition that don’t quite fit with the rest of its work. Despite being recorded acoustically, they carry heft, washing over you and leaving you heavier than before.

That time of transition is just subsiding, actually. About a year ago, DeLaRosa quit her corporate job. She enrolled in classes at Sacramento City College—something she thought was never in her cards. She also started nannying, enjoying the flexibility as well as the daily reminders of her own childhood and how much she’s grown. She thinks all the change has positively manifested itself in both Flourish’s music and the band’s steadily building momentum.

“I think for a lot of my life, my happiness was really out of my hands,” DeLaRosa says. “At some point, I had to realize it was within my reach to change my situation and become happy.”