Sunday, July 26, 2015

Whitney Rose: “Heartbreaker Of The Year” (2015) CD Review

From the photo on the cover of Whitney Rose’s new CD, Heartbreaker Of The Year, and from the photo on the back (which shows a pair of white cowboy boots), I expected the music to be basically pure country. And while there definitely is that wonderful classic country feel, Whitney Rose mixes in some strong pop elements as well, creating an interesting and unusual sound and vibe, which I began digging almost immediately. Plus, she has a fantastic voice. This CD contains mostly original material, and features members of The Mavericks backing her. In fact, Mavericks lead singer Raul Malo produced this CD (and joins her on vocals for a rather surprising duet). By the way, this is yet more excellent music from Canada; Whitney Rose is based in Toronto (if you’ve been reading this blog lately, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of great discs are coming from Canada, particularly Ontario).

The album opens with “Little Piece Of You,” and straight off you’ll notice something interesting going on. It’s country music, but with a 1960s pop thing happening as well. It’s a wonderful combination, and fits well with the song’s opening lines, “Where’d you find that old school soul/They don’t make those anymore.” And I completely fell for her vocals on the next lines, “Did you go diving deep down in the ocean blue/For that little piece of you.” Clearly her own soul is timeless.

That’s followed by “My First Rodeo,” a fast-paced bit of country bliss, with a good beat. The band is cooking here, though of course Whitney Rose’s vocals are what take center stage. I’m not a big fan of false endings, but I love when this song comes bursting back in, and actually I just wish it went on longer after that. From there, Whitney Rose switches gears for “The Last Party,” one of those slow, gorgeous, heart-breaking country numbers. “Go cover every jukebox, smash all the guitars/There’s no more music now, even sad songs feel so far away/Board up every theatre, there’ll be no more shows/Why do the birds still sing? Surely they must know.” (This reminds me a bit of that excellent W.H. Auden poem that is read in Four Weddings And A Funeral.)

“Heartbreaker Of The Year,” the CD’s title track, is a country song, but with the cool vibe of a tune like “Fever,” with a prominent bass line, and even has finger snaps. It’s a song about someone who is making it in the entertainment field, walking the red carpet to receive an award, but from the perspective of a woman no longer in his life. “You won’t find me too drunk at the after party/You won’t find me in bed drowning in tears/I’ll be sitting with paper and pen/Working out the math so it won’t happen again.” But my favorite lines are “You must have taken a class in fading away, friend/You must have taken a class in drawing folks near.”

While I was surprised that the first song had a certain 1960s pop flavor, the first of two covers on this CD is a 1963 pop hit, “Be My Baby,” here done as a duet with Raul Malo. “Be My Baby” was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, and was originally recorded by The Ronettes. This version doesn’t open with that famous drumbeat. It’s followed by “The Devil Borrowed My Boots,” which actually has something of a late 1960s soul vibe – horns would certainly not be out of place here. And at one moment the guitar briefly reminds me of “Harper Valley PTA.” This is a fun song. “Don’t be fooled by the boots, that wasn’t me.”

While the first of this CD’s two covers is a classic pop tune, the second is a classic country song, Hank Williams’ “There’s A Tear In My Beer,” here done as a sweet, beautiful, slow number, almost like a lullaby, Whitney's voice nearly angelic.

CD Track List
  1. Little Piece Of You
  2. My First Rodeo
  3. The Last Party
  4. Only Just A Dream
  5. Heartbreaker Of The Year
  6. Be My Baby
  7. The Devil Borrowed My Boots
  8. Ain’t It Wise
  9. Lasso
  10. There’s A Tear In My Beer

Musicians on this album include Whitney Rose on vocals and acoustic guitar; Raul Malo on vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar and percussion; Nichol Robertson on electric guitar, acoustic guitar and mandolin; Jerry Dale McFadden on piano and organ; Jay Weaver on bass; Paul Deakin on drums; Burke Carroll on pedal steel, lap steel and dobro; and Drew Jurecka on strings.

Heartbreaker Of The Year is scheduled to be released on August 21, 2015 on Cameron House Records.

No comments:

Post a Comment