Whitney Rose has a vintage aesthetic which is reflected in her music and her style. To some this may seem fake, just annoying kids playing ‘dress up’. Okay so recreating the past is a little inauthentic in a way but sometimes being yourself is just so bloody boring. Rule 62 from the AA bible is don’t take yourself so damn seriously and on this excellent album Whitney is having fun with the past, inventing characters and most importantly, singing quality songs.
There are some brilliant divorce songs in country music and I Don’t Want Half ( I Just Want Out) is another one to add to the playlist. It’s classic in style but there’s a feminist core to this music – she’s off out of this hellish relationship and she’s not looking back. Possessions, money well they don’t mean as much as freedom from being treated like shit. No one is standing by their man here – this modern no nonsense attitude is what makes this music more than just pastiche.
On Arizona you can hear the influence of The Mavericks style of country as the band’s singer Raul Malo produces and plays on the album. It’s a great song – a toe tapping, foot stomping hoedown with horns and a blistering guitar solo, well it’s enough to make you want to dance the night away.
Better to My Baby changes the style a little, going for more of a Nancy Sinatra sixties vibe which blends perfectly. There’s something really clever about the lyrics to this song and how she switches the Ronettes ‘Be My Baby‘ into a heartbreaker about lost love, imagining your ex-boyfriend and their new partner instead of your own dream.
The country ballads on the album sound timeless, both You Never Cross My Mind and Wake Me in Wyoming create this wonderful wistful feeling. Can’t Stop Shakin’ is a great little vintage gogo number, and I love the Hammond organ breakdown too. There’s a playfulness in her experimentation with genre which really works for me and actually makes her more distinctive and interesting because she’s not stuck in one box.
The next couple of songs are the highlight of the album. First the cover of Tied to the Wheel – a classic storytelling song, but from a trucker’s perspective. Then the next track is a story of bigamy, sung to the melody that’s reminiscent of Gentle on My Mind or On the Road Again. The character turns up to her daddy’s Trucker Funeral and she finds out he had another family all along. This is the most interesting song lyrically on the record, inspired by a true story and thankfully judgment free. Daddy kept two families happy, I guess that’s a feat for anyone…if you’re at a truckers funeral be prepared for anything. Indeed. Genius.
The songwriting and musicianship on this album are consistently top quality. I do have to point out that on first listen I felt like Whitney’s voice sounded too similar in style to others, especially Margo Price. However after a few listens this album began to settle into its own groove, her style imprinted itself on my brain and I was hooked.
So don’t take Rule 62 too seriously, it was never meant to be perfection but Whitney Rose gets pretty damn close.