Monday, September 4, 2017

Whitney Rose: “Rule 62” (2017) CD Review

I became a fan of Whitney Rose’s music upon hearing the first song of her 2015 release, Heartbreaker Of The Year. Then earlier this year she followed that with South Texas Suite, an excellent six-song EP. Well, her new CD, Rule 62, is even better. It is a masterful and delightful album of mostly original material. Whitney Rose is in control here, her excellent voice driving, or at least guiding, the music, and our mood as well. So just give in, and let her take over for forty-four minutes. It will be the most enjoyable forty-four minutes of your day.

The new CD opens with “I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out).” This song has a glorious old-time country sound (I can imagine Dolly Parton or even Patsy Cline singing this one), and yet it’s an original tune, written by Whitney Rose. Boy, she can really tap into that timeless country magic, and she has the voice for it. She’ll be able to draw tears from her audience if that’s her goal, or make them fall for her if she so desires. This song is about the end of a marriage. I love this line: “You take the house, dear, I’ll take the train.” And the lines about the cat make me laugh: “And you can even keep the cat/I never liked that selfish brat.” This song features some nice work by Aaron Till on fiddle, and by Chris Scruggs on steel guitar. “Well, don’t you worry about me, or what becomes of my life/It’s already better now that I’m not your wife.” Whitney follows that with a more lively and fun number titled “Arizona.” This is one I saw her perform in Burbank in March of this year, and I’m glad she decided to include it on this album. Max Abrams joins her on saxophone, adding to the joyous atmosphere of the track.  At that show, she also covered Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” and Whitney’s own “Better To My Baby” has something of that early 1960s pop feel. Her voice is perfect for this kind of material, as well as for that great country stuff.

One of my personal favorites is “You Never Cross My Mind,” with Whitney giving us an intimate and beautiful vocal performance. “Everything can be controlled/No one here’s growing old/This life goes by so slow/It don’t fly right on by/You never cross my mind.” Really, it’s a captivating performance, over some beautiful playing by Chris Scruggs on steel guitar. Raul Malo also contributes some wonderful work on guitar. And here is where Whitney Rose may draw some tears from your eyes, as she tries to deny the truth of her feelings while simultaneously baring them. “You Never Cross My Mind” is followed by “You Don’t Scare Me,” another song I saw her perform in Burbank earlier this year. She paired it with Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” to conclude the first set.

“Can’t Stop Shakin’” is another of my favorites. It has a fun mid-1960s feel, like a song a band would be playing in one of those scenes taking place at a go-go, with girls in sweaters and tall boots dancing with clean-cut but somewhat enthusiastic boys. That rhythm, that guitar – and then the horn! That’s Max Abrams again on saxophone. And Jen Gunderman provides some wonderful work on organ, particularly during the instrumental section. This is pure fun. At least, the music is. But then listen to the lyrics. Here Whitney sings, “Someone please turn off the news/I’ve got the six o’clock blues/I can’t stop shakin’/No, I can’t stop shakin’/I ain’t going to let him win/No, I ain’t giving in.” So while the sound might take us back to another time, the lyrics are firmly in the present, in a very screwed up time where a delusional racist twit occupies the White House. And perhaps she’s helping us deal with our anxiety and fear, by turning one kind of shaking to another, to a more positive kind. It’s a case of dancing our blues away, and this is the song to do it.

Whitney Rose then turns to sweeter tones for “Tied To The Wheel,” one of only two covers on this album. This song was the title track to Bill Kirchen’s 2001 release, and Whitney Rose’s version features Jen Gunderman on accordion. The other song on the album not written by Whitney Rose is “You’re A Mess,” which was written by Carol MacQuarrie. It’s kind of a delightful pop tune that opens with these lines: “I’m trying to love you, baby/But it’s so hard.” Whitney Rose then ends the CD with a rockin’ country number titled “Time To Cry,” with a 1950s rock electric guitar part and plenty of good vibes. Yeah, she leaves us in a good place. “But now you’ve got the nerve to say you need me/To say you can’t believe I said goodbye/You watched me shed a thousand tears and then some/And now it’s your time to cry.”

CD Track List
  1. I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out)
  2. Arizona
  3. Better To My Baby
  4. You Never Cross My Mind
  5. You Don’t Scare Me
  6. Can’t Stop Shakin’
  7. Tied To The Wheel
  8. Trucker’s Funeral
  9. Wake Me In Wyoming
  10. You’re A Mess
  11. Time To Cry 
Rule 62 is scheduled to be released on October 6, 2017 through Six Shooter Records and Thirty Tigers.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Whitney did the Interstellar Rodeo Fest in Winnipeg in August 2017. I was deeply impressed with her style and performance on stage. She has a wonderful voice. I told her she has vocal style somewhat like Jeannie C. Riley and the look of a young Rosanne Cash. Not fair since Whitney has smashing good looks and great stage presence.