1. I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out)
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
I became aware of Whitney Rose with her second album ‘Heartbreaker Of The Year,’ which I liked enough to keep her on my radar. In early 2017, she released the ‘South Texas Suite’ EP which I really enjoyed. She returned in late 2017 with her 3rd album ‘Rule 62.’ Rose transports us back to a time when Country music was not just Pop music with an artificial twang added after the fact.
The album opens with the vocal hook of ‘I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out)’ so I was quickly able to sing that part through the rest of the song. One of the first things I noticed was that the mix on this album is that Rose’s voice is slightly deeper in the mix which I think works to the music’s advantage. It lends the album a slightly looser live feel than the previous material I have heard. I love the piano work on the opener too. The honky tonk beat of ‘Arizona’ introduces some horns to the sound and is one of the first songs that stayed with me between initial listens. The solos built into the song on the guitar and in the horns fit seamlessly.
‘Better To My Baby’ takes us back in time to the 60’s musically with a blend of Country and Soul. Rose’s singing shines here with a mix that allows every instrument to be heard. Things slow down for the ballad ‘You Never Cross My Mind.’ Rose’s vocals bleed pain and hurt from the beginning of the song as she clearly lies to the person in the song. The fiddle stands out in this song, along with a tastefully picked acoustic guitar solo. It is easy to imagine this song has a video where we see Rose trying to compose herself during the solo for her next verse. This is also a case where a 4 minute song only seems to last 2 minutes. The pace picks back up for ‘You Don’t Scare Me.’ This might be the one song where I wish the mix had allowed her vocal to cascade over the music in the chorus to show off the passion in the singing. It’s a shame that this album and a great song like this will never break through on mainstream Country radio. With the success of Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson though, I hold out hope that she can find a way to crossover to the larger audience she deserves.
The midway point of the album begins with the 60’s Rock influence of ‘Can’t Stop Shakin.’ The horns are placed perfectly on this song, and the guitar work is well done. This song has not connected with me as much as the others on the album, but I cannot pin a reason why that is. ‘Tied To The Wheel’ creates images of tumbleweeds blowing across the interstate and being the only car on a desolate road. There is a tremble in her voice that carries a lot of emotional weight. ‘Trucker’s Funeral’ ironically quickens the pace and paints a vivid narrative. About 2/3 of the way through the album, the depth and diversity within the songs is terrific.
The final stretch of the album begins with ‘Wake Me In Wyoming,’ which would be right at home in a classic country and western movie. Her voice here reminds me a little of Kelly Willis around the days of the ‘What I Deserve’ album. The piano really stands out again here as it is perfectly complements the music around it. ‘You’re A Mess’ returns to the 60’s Pop/ R & B influence and is near perfection. Final song ‘Time To Cry’ goes up tempo and ends the album on yet another highlight. The guitar rings out from a musical well of timeless nirvana as Rose belts out the vocal.
I imagine some will not like that the vocals are not higher in the mix, but I really like the balance everything is given here. It feels like chemistry in the band was awesome here with everyone playing off one another. The album has a cohesive sound with songs exhibiting a diversity that really makes the album engaging. As I mentioned earlier, I hope that Whitney Rose can find a way to make herself known across more than the niche market that will initially enjoy this record. Her sincerity and genuineness shine through in the songs, and more people deserve to hear the emotion and passion in these songs. For myself, this album will be receiving a lot of listens, and I will then be catching up on her debut that I am still missing. I recommend picking yourself up a double shot of ‘Rule 62’ and ‘South Texas Suite’ to start your musical journey with Ms. Rose.
‘Rule 62’ is available now.
Website - http://whitneyrosemusic.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/whitneyrosemusic/
Review - Gerald Stansbury