In the past Whitney Rose has toyed with different genres like classic country and vintage pop but on this excellent new album We Still Go To Rodeos she finds a style that feels more distinctively her own.
The decision to work with a new producer, Paul Kolderie, is brave after two albums with Mavericks frontman Raul Malo at the helm. For me the decision pays off and by elevating those classic rock and roll elements her voice and personality sound stronger.
Songs like Just Circumstance and Believe Me, Angela are inhabited by characters with everyday troubles, victims of the sometimes cruel fate that befalls the unlucky ones in life. In telling their stories Whitney Rose offers compassion and comfort towards their broken hearts and worlds.
Sadness is deep in many of these songs. In a Rut is the catchiest melody and refrain on the album – a simple statement of how it feels to feel trapped in your own despair. With a song this good maybe you can start to sing your way out of the pit you’ve found yourself in. Hundred Shades of Blue explores the many ways melancholia can permeate your life. These feelings are not just passing through, she admits and asks a lover if they are able to handle her reality.
While there are a couple of sweet love songs on here (the title track and Home With You), most of the album deals with troubled relationships and emotional regrets. On I’d Rather Be Alone she escapes the loneliness of a damaging relationship for the freedom of her own future.
The bluesy You’d Blame Me For the Rain is a nice change of pace and shows the variety in her sound. Classic country swoon Through the Cracks is a great vocal performance and throughout the album you sense her confidence as a songwriter and performer has grown. Don’t Give Up On Me is a sweet little strum, offering a quieter moment of reflection. She’s more conflicted on the country rock stomper Better Man, using her voice to roar out some real frustrations.
One of the strongest songs on the album is Thanks for Trying, full of attitude, confidence and sass. I’m not broken by the things you did to me, she sings with defiance in every syllable. In concert she often covers You Don’t Own Me and this one is written with a similarly powerful message of independence and resilience at its core.
We Still Go To Rodeos respects the traditions of the past while never letting them tie her down to one particular era or genre. Whitney Rose has released one of the best Americana albums of the year so far, full of brilliant songs, real heart and personality to boot.
In these difficult times for independent artists please consider buying a physical copy of this excellent record: