Like ripples rising into waves with the moon, and the love of a child. Like a flower blooming year after year, and cowboys and girls going to rodeos. Some things endure, becoming stronger because they have to. Like Whitney Rose.
Rose’s mother and grandparents raised her while running a bar in what she calls “the middle of nowhere” on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Rose would often crawl down the stairs as a little girl and thrill the beer-fortified patrons by singing Hank Williams’ “There’s a Tear in My Beer.” An Austin, Texas resident since 2016 by magnetic attraction, Rose still sings that classic at the Continental Club, where she’s a mainstay.
“We Still Go to Rodeos” suggests an adherence to tradition by its title. Throughout its songs, Rose adheres to country tradition, and she doesn’t, which is one of the several virtues that makes the album — and Rose — so attractive. She’s tender, to the same degree that she kicks ass — wickedly.
Rose has always folded satin sheets of soul into her grit and twang. Her sensual character, and the sultry quality in her voice, lends perfectly to that. On this, her fourth full-length album, she adds jagged slices of get-down rock ‘n’ roll to the mix to striking effect. Rose is right at home, for instance, on “I’m in a Rut,” an infectious, Brit Invasion and Nu-Wave-inspired rocker. Guitarists Dave Leroy Biller and Rich Brotherton crunch mightily in the tune, and Biller flies off with abandon as Rose bellows the title refrain.
That little killer crashes to a halt into “A Hundred Shades of Blue.” Pensive and full of soul, the song calls to mind Dusty Springfield’s classic Dusty in Memphis album, but dusted here by the winds over the Texas plains. Rose sings with come-hither beauty in her voice, and Biller plays wonderfully, crying his notes. In “Believe Me, Angela,” Biller plays a figure that hooks as deeply as Rose sings the caring, cautionary words.
“Home with You” evokes a breezy night of memories made, and then the rhythmically pungent “You’d Blame Me for the Rain” lays them to rest, soured. In each, and in all, the country music is timeless, cut by a fantastic band and a lady actually born with the name Whitney Rose. By her moniker alone, you’d think she was destined to be a country music star. But Whitney Rose has it all. With “We Still Go to Rodeos,” she’s an old soul arriving for a fresh start, with bells on.
–– Tom Clarke
‘We Still Go To Rodeos’
Label: MCG Recordings
Release: April 24, 2020