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August 4th, 2017


World-traveling Austin-based artist enlists Raul Malo (Mavericks) as producer, Niko Bolas as co-producer. Paul Deakin (Mavericks), Jen Gunderman (Jayhawks, Sheryl Crow), Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams), Chris Scruggs and Aaron Till (Asleep at the Wheel) form Rose’s own hot studio band.

"Even the chief architect, standing in the ruins of her dream, could laugh at herself — and that is the very acme of humility.” —Tradition Four, AA

Rolling Stone Country
premiered a track

AUSTIN, Texas – There are many useful rules to live by, but for Whitney Rose, there’s one that stands alone as a guiding principle for life as she knows it: Rule 62. The origin of the rule is best summed up by the poignant, pronoun-adjusted excerpt from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Tradition Four cited above, a treatise on how to find harmony between ambition and self-awareness, and how to learn one’s lessons with humor and humility. This truism, officially worded as “Don’t Take Yourself Too Damn Seriously,” is the origin of both the title and ethos of Whitney Rose’s forthcoming album, Rule 62.

The album is due out on October 6, 2017 on Six Shooter Records through Thirty Tigers.

Rewind to January 2017. Six months ago, Rose was primed to release South Texas Suite, a countrypolitan valentine to Austin, Texas. (Rolling Stone noted that it “bristles with local flavor.”) Days before the EP hit the streets and Rose kicked off a four-month worldwide tour, the burgeoning songwriting force (and “country hair” disciple) packed her boots for Nashville, where she entered BlackBird Studio A to reconvene with the Mavericks’ Raul Malo. In one short week, Rose, Malo and co-producer Niko Bolas channeled the tumult, turbulence and tension outside of the studio into Rose’s sophomore worldwide release, which includes nine self-penned songs. Playful yet uncompromising, Whitney Rose reminds us of popular music’s rich history of strong female voices and perspectives, and on Rule 62, she channels her inner Nancy Sinatra, Bobbie Gentry and Françoise Hardy. Rule 62 finds Rose “breaking up with patriarchy,” a breakup evidenced by new songs that show verve, swagger and self-assurance in Rose’s instinctive sense of tone, broadened scope and attention to detail.

Consider “Can’t Stop Shakin’” in the context of the day it was recorded: January 20, 2017. With Malo on harmonies and rhythm guitars, Kenny Vaughn on lead guitar, and saxophones and organ in the mix, “Can’t Stop Shakin’” was originally written as an anti-anxiety treatment in Memphis soul dance party form. Against an ominous political backdrop, the song now reverberates with an undercurrent of uncertainty and anger that reframes the self-calming shimmy as an act of protest. “’Can't Stop Shakin’ started out as something I would sing to calm myself down.” Rose says. “We recorded that song on Inauguration day and you could physically feel the divide between the public and the unrest in the air. I was in the studio that week every day for twelve hours on average, so realized my contribution was going to have to take place within the walls of Blackbird. So the song that started as a personal anthem got a rewrite that day.”

Rule 62’s “breakup” theme can be felt in songs like “Arizona” and “Time to Cry,” two fiery, merciless tunes that show Rose at the end of her rope with the manipulation and discrimination of women in the music business and beyond. “For reasons unbeknownst to me at the time, I started writing all these “breakup” songs that were mostly angry. I wasn’t sure where all these feelings were coming from until one day it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was penning these songs to society,” she observes. These sharp-tongued send-offs come with a good dose of humor, and the result is a reassuring sense that Rose isn’t letting anything grind her down.

Rose’s rising resilience underpins the message of “Better to My Baby,” a standout song that puts into practice the spirit and the letter of the album title. A tuneful take on moving on, the song is a measured spin on the traditional volatility of regret and jealousy that accompanies the end of a relationship. “Better To My Baby” also showcases Rose’s adept handling of ’60s pop conventions in its proud girl group nods: tinkling piano, buoyant harmonies and rueful romanticism.

Rule 62 is Rose’s second release of 2017, and sees the songwriter’s increased output matched by increased distinction. With so much touring now under the tires, it’s no surprise that Rose’s best work yet often explores her journeywoman’s experience. “Meet Me in Wyoming” and “Trucker’s Funeral” are emblematic of Rose’s clever study of the musician-as-trucker analogy. “Trucker’s Funeral,” a Dolly-caliber yarn with a stranger-than-fiction twist, is in fact a true story: “I had a meeting at Bank of America here in Austin last year and when the meeting was over the teller told me about going to his grandfather’s funeral here in Texas,” Rose recounts. “He found out he had a full second family on the West Coast. His grandfather was a trucker and always on the road, so neither family had any idea. As he was telling me this story, I was jotting down lyrics on my banking papers because it was just too intriguing an experience not be made into a song.”

Rule 62 boasts the first-class musicianship and studio instincts of collaborator and producer Raul Malo. The comfort and familiarity between the two made for a seamless return to the studio, this time with the added ear of Niko Bolas as co-producer. “Niko brought a lot to the table in the studio (when he wasn't sitting at his table at Waffle House). It allowed Raul to step down from the producer role from time to time and be a part of the band. That man can play and sing. One of my favorite parts of the album is the guitar solo on ‘You Never Cross My Mind’ — that's all Raul,” Rose observes appreciatively. Other musicians in the studio included Paul Deakin (The Mavericks) on drums, Jay Weaver (Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker, The Mavericks) on bass; Jen Gunderman (Sheryl Crow) on piano; Chris Scruggs (Marty Stuart) on steel; Aaron Till (Asleep at the Wheel) on the fiddle; and Kenny Vaughn (Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams) on lead guitar. Rule 62. Don’t Take Yourself Too Damn Seriously. It’s the only rule that Whitney Rose needs to keep going.

1. I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out) (3:06)
2. Arizona (3:58)
3. Better to My Baby (3:13)
4. You Never Cross My Mind (4:02)
5. You Don’t Scare Me (4:14)
6. Can’t Stop Shakin’ (4:22) 7. Tied to the Wheel (4:41)
8. Trucker’s Funeral (5:04)
9. Wake Me in Wyoming (3:29)
10. You’re a Mess (3:48)
11. Time to Cry (3:56)

# # #

HEAR NOW: Rolling Stone Country premiered the track "Can't Stop Shakin'":

October 24th, 2016


Americana enchantress follows Raul Malo-produced Heartbreaker of the Year  with more country-pop charm, accompanied by
Haybale!’s Redd Volkaert, Earl Poole Ball, Tom Lewis and Kevin Smith

AUSTIN, Texas — Before moving to Austin, Whitney Rose had never danced the two-step. Now, the country-pop singer’s infatuation with Texas’ rich musical culture, from stage to studio to dance floor, informs an enthralling new project, a love letter to the Lone Star State. Her new EP, South Texas Suite, is a touch nostalgic, deeply romantic and defiantly personal — it’s Texas, through Whitney Rose’s eyes and ears.

South Texas Suite is a meticulous study of sound and place, but also a product of unexpected circumstance. Last October, shortly after the release of her album Heartbreaker of the Year, Rose packed up her boot collection and headed south to play a two-month residency at Austin’s famed Americana bastion, the Continental Club. But that November-December engagement went so well, she wound up staying. Since then, she’s toured with Sam Outlaw, made her European debut and signed with Thirty Tigers-distributed Six Shooter Records.

Rose became smitten with Texas, and the warm welcome from Austin’s vibrant musical community made her feel right at home. Songs started pouring out — so many that she just had to start recording. The first result is this new EP, which will be released January 27, 2017. Rose herself produced South Texas Suite, a first for the poised countrypolitan songwriter. Top to bottom, the EP is the work of an artist who is both an insider and an outsider, an observer and a maker, a listener and a storyteller — no matter where she lives.

“Ever since I moved here I’ve been going out and watching live music, and falling in love with musicians around town,” says Rose. “The music scene here is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. So I have been writing nonstop, I’ve written close to 40 new songs since I arrived.”

She recorded South Texas Suite over two days at Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Studios in North Austin, accompanied by Grammy winner Redd Volkaert, Merle Haggard’s former guitarist; Earl Poole Ball, who spent two decades tickling keyboards for Johnny Cash; Kevin Smith, now playing bass in Willie Nelson’s Family Band; and Tom Lewis, who’s drummed with the Mavericks, among others. All four play in Haybale!, the Continental Club’s Sunday-night stalwart; Lewis also plays in Rose’s band, along with guitarist Bryce Clark, steel player James Shelton and acoustic guitarist Sophia Johnson. They’re also on the EP, along with fiddler Erik Hokkanen and accordionist Michael Guerra.

The sensuous waltz of the opening song, “Three Minute Love Affair,” with its Tex-Mex flavor provided by Guerra’s Flaco Jiménez-worthy accordion, beautifully sets the tone for South Texas Suite “I love the dance culture in Texas; I’m completely enamored,” says Rose. “That’s absolutely what inspired ‘Three Minute Love Affair’ — as a song starts, the world kind of stops and you’re like lovers for three minutes, and then it’s over and you’re strangers again. But there’s this beautiful little moment in time.”

Of course, no self-respecting two-stepper would take to a dance-hall floor without Rose’s favorite footwear; her heel-stomping honky-tonk ode to that Texas wardrobe essential, “My Boots,” is also a feminist statemen

“I’ll go if I can wear my boots/I don’t feel like high heel shoes/And that don’t mean that I’m crazy/That don’t mean I ain’t a lady,” she sings in her sugary-smooth voice. She sounds even sweeter on “Lookin’ Back on Luckenbach,” a wistful mid-tempo ballad about leaving a beloved place behind.

Rose didn’t write “Analog” or “Bluebonnets for My Baby,” but the “sultry country classicist,” as The New York Times called her, certainly identifies with both songs. In “Analog,” by Brennan Leigh, Rose sings the praises of lazy rivers and “that needle skipping on my old hi-fi,” as opposed to the soul-sucking conveniences of modern, digital life. And in “Bluebonnets for My Baby,” by Teri Joyce, Rose could almost be Shelley Fabares singing “Johnny Angel” to one of her ’60s-flick leading men.

“‘Bluebonnets for My Baby’ is everything that I love about music in a song. And it’s the state flower,” she observes. “I wanted this EP to be a little love letter or thank-you note to Texas, so I chose the songs that I perceived to be the most ‘Texas.’ And I love to cover songs written by women.” (It’s also no coincidence that both of the songwriters Rose has chosen hail from Austin.)

The Bakersfield-style instrumental closer, “How ’Bout a Hand for the Band,” originally was the outro for “My Boots.”

“I had amazing musicians, so I wanted the end of ‘My Boots’ to be a big jam,” says Rose. “But the song ended up being really long, so we had to cut that. But it’s such incredible playing, I didn’t want to rob the world of getting to hear it. It was a cool way to tie it up.”

Indeed it is.

Lauding Rose’s blend of “the purer sides of pop and country” in its Heartbreaker review, American Songwriter magazine noted, “The most exciting part is seeing where she goes next.”

Her immediate plans include more songwriting and work with Raul Malo, who produced Heartbreaker of the Year and will helm her next full-length; they’ll record in January at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio. Then she’ll head on tour for several months with dates in North America, Europe and Scandinavia. After that, it’ll be time to release the new album.
But until then, there’s South Texas Suite, a compelling tribute to the Lone Star State.

# # #

Rolling Stone broke the news of the new EP and premiered this behind-the-scenes video:

July 8, 2015

U.S. album debut . . .


Sophomore Cameron House Records effort features Mavericks members on eight Rose-penned tracks, plus nods to Hank Williams and the Ronettes; Mavericks singer Malo duets on beguiling “Be My Baby” cover

TORONTO, Ont., Canada — Whitney Rose can’t recall when she started singing Hank Williams tunes because she was so young, her memories don’t stretch that far back. But she knows where her love of classic country took hold: in her grandparents’ bar on Prince Edward Island, where she also heard country-influenced genre-blenders like The Mavericks. Her introduction to old-school pop came in first-grade gym class, where her teacher played the Ronettes and other greats.

Though Rose began writing songs only five years ago and didn’t front her first band until a year later, her devotion to those styles quickly evolved into an Americana-rooted form she calls “vintage-pop-infused neo-traditional-country” — a sound so beguiling, it earned her opening slots on two Mavericks tours and enticed lead singer Raul Malo to produce her new album, Heartbreaker of the Year . The Cameron House Records release drops stateside on Aug. 21 via Redeye Worldwide.

Recorded in four days at Toronto’s Revolution Studios, Rose’s sophomore effort contains eight originals and two well-chosen covers: Williams’ “There’s a Tear in My Beer” and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” on which she and Malo share a sultry duet so sublime, it could turn the song into a hit all over again. Malo contributes vocals, guitar and percussion throughout, accompanied by Mavericks Jerry Dale McFadden (keyboards), Paul Deakin (drums) and Jay Weaver (bass), as well as Burke Carroll (steel guitar, dobro, lap steel) and Drew Jurecka (strings), plus Rose’s main wingman, guitarist/mandolinist Nichol Robertson.
Rose attributes her rapport with the Mavericks to their shared admiration for time-tested country and pop. “I’m very attracted to the simplicity of older music,” she explains. “It’s straightforward; here’s a story, here’s a feeling … three chords and the truth.”
She delivers all kinds of truth on Heartbreaker , which she characterizes as “a classic offering with modern lyrical content.” (Do not think “throwback”; her sensibilities bear something in common with, say, Nikki Lane.) On the title track, she references awards-show red carpets and after-parties, and sings this spurned-lover chorus: “Oh you got it in the bag, your home town must be buzzing/Your mama’s probably smilin’, wiping away proud tears/If I wear a sparkling gown, can I be the one to crown the heartbreaker of the year?”

With a slinky, torchy “Fever” feel enhanced by finger-pops, tremoloed guitar twang and a slightly menacing undercurrent, the song oozes charisma — just like Rose, who nails every track with resonant, well-modulated vocals and perfectly nuanced delivery.

On “The Last Party,” she pays loving homage to Patsy Cline; the charming “The Devil Borrowed My Boots” — which lays a country-pop groove over bluesy funk — may have drawn inspiration for its subject from a certain Nancy Sinatra hit, as well as Shania Twain’s “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” (A self-proclaimed “big boot girl,” Rose often covers “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” and when they share bills, she and Malo duet on “Somethin’ Stupid,” the Nancy-and-Frank hit Malo recorded with Tricia Yearwood.)

“I love this record,” says Malo. “I'm honored to have played a part in making it. The songs are so strong no one could ruin them ... not even me.” Adds mix-master Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Keith Richards), “I should take this opportunity to wax poetic about the charm, wit, and sexy cynicism of Whitney Rose, but that’s a lot of words. So I will just say she has the shit. ”

The album is already earning accolades in Canada, including this Calgary Herald rave: “ Heartbreaker of the Year is as cool as country comes — an intoxicating round of tequila shots served with the salt of despair [and] the refreshing tartness of living life, and delivered by a server who can sass, flirt [and] cuss, and seduce anybody in the room.”

Those are traits she shares with her biggest inspiration, “queen Dolly Parton.” But Rose’s music career actually traces to a less obvious source: Judy Garland. During a stint at one of five universities she attended (“I’m a bit of a drifter,” she admits), Rose started singing in a Garland tribute act. Her previous experience consisted of high school musicals and occasional wedding performances.

She happened to attend a Christmas party with the tribute’s producer; the entertainer was Bob Egan of Blue Rodeo. During his break, friends goaded her into singing. After hearing her do two songs a cappella, Egan complimented her and asked what kind of music she wrote.

“It hadn’t occurred to me before that,” she says. “I told him I didn’t write anything. He gave me a card and said, ‘Write five songs and get in touch with me when you do.’”

She bought a guitar, taught herself some chords, wrote five songs and reached out. He wound up taking her on tour as a backing vocalist. That was five years ago. Four years ago, with many more songs in hand, she moved to Toronto (after a sojourn “living on a farm in the middle of nowhere”). There, she met Blue Rodeo bassist Bazil Donovan, who built her a band including former Blue Rodeo drummer Cleave Anderson. They debuted at the Cameron House bar in 2011; until that moment, she had never fronted a band.

Cameron House Records snapped her up, and in 2012 she recorded her self-titled debut. Her manager invited a prominent booking agent to the release show, which led to her 2013 tour with the Mavericks.

“It was love at first sight,” she says. “I had never seen them live, so I was like a moth to a light that first night.” The feeling apparently was mutual; the band invited her out again in 2014. “That’s when I worked up the courage to ask them to make a record with me,” Rose explains, “To my delight, they said yes.”

She reports most of the decision-making happened spontaneously in the studio, including the cover selections. “‘Be my Baby’ is one of my favorite pop songs and ‘Tear in My Beer’ is one of my favorite country songs, and I wanted to include one of each to help listeners make sense of my record,” Rose says. “Heartbreaker is a marriage of my love of the two genres, in their past forms.”

For a woman who never studied music formally — not even during those five university stints — Rose clearly scores A’s in the college of musical knowledge. And she says she’s learned so much in the last few years, she’s earned the equivalent of a music degree from the best school there is: experience.

“If you go to universities, you’re learning all the technicalities and the basics, but you’re not learning how to do a 14-hour drive and be functional at the end of it. But doing it with veterans and witnessing how they handle it is like attending a musical boot camp,” she says. “And being on tour with the Mavericks is so cool, because it’s all about music. After the show, they’re talking about music and I’m talking about music and I’m talking about music with them, so I’m learning about music. I’m very grateful for everything they’ve taught me.”

Rose’s musical symbiosis with the Mavericks was a refreshing change from her teenage years; with a sweet giggle she unleashes frequently, she reports, “My friends hated when I drove and got to choose the music.”

Now they’re more like proud parents snapping graduation pictures — and singing along to every irresistible Heartbreaker song.

Whitney Rose web site:
Listen to the premiere of a duet between Whitney Rose and Raul Malo via Rolling Stone Country:


Artist Photo