Whitney Rose has been a honky-tonk favorite since her debut album Heartbreaker of the Year, which was produced by Raul Malo. It’s easy to see why. Her voice pure and she can inject sadness into a song as well as greats like Patsy Cline. On the new album We Still Go To Rodeos, she shows growth both as a singer and a songwriter.
It doesn’t take long to realize that while Rose’s voice is still as sweet as it’s ever been, it is also richer and more mature. It’s not just more mature in sound quality, but also in the stories she tells. In “Home with You,” the narrator sings about being at a party with someone. She is very much in the moment, but at the same time she sings, “I want to go home with you, be alone, maybe sit out in the yard and get stoned with you.” While a lot of country songs focus on the chase for love, this one revels in the warmth of having found it.
Country music isn’t short on songs about a woman done wrong. Rose adds to the canon with “Believe Me, Angela.” In it, the woman who was wronged says that she wants to key the car of the woman who slept with her husband. If you only hear the melody – complete with pedal steel – you’ll want to find a dance partner, and you wouldn’t be wrong to do so. However, if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll hear the vitriol that stands in stark contrast to the sweetness of the melody.
“Rather Be Alone” is a change of pace from a lot of the songs. The theme of the song is pure country. Namely in the chorus when she sings, “I’d rather be alone than lonely.” The melody includes some banjo, but there is also a fair amount of rock in both the guitar and the rhythm. While a lot of her songs are made for dark honky tonks, this one begs to be played at a festival in front of a huge crowd of people that are singing along.
A lot of range is displayed on this album. You hear the sad country that Rose sings so well in “A Hundred Shades of Blue”. “You’d Blame Me for the Rain” on the other hand would fit just as easily in a dark blues bar. That’s not to say that you’re going to confuse Rose’s vocals with someone like Shemekia Copeland. Still, the slow-burning melody contains a lot of bent notes on the guitar and a rhythm that plants it firmly in blues-rock territory.
On this album, Rose shows undeniable talent as a songwriter. No matter the style, she knows how to write a pretty song that is easy for listeners to sing. She also assembled a tremendous cast of musicians who help her bring these 12 songs to life. We Still Go To Rodeos will be available everywhere on April 24. Order your copy here.