Recently nominated for Honky Tonk Female at the 2018 Ameripolitan Music Awards, Whitney Rose, who has earned accolades for her vintage pop-infused traditional country stylings, is winding down from an incredibly busy year. She released her EP South Texas Suite in January, followed that up with her full-length Rule 62 in October, and did her first major tour of Europe. A week before Thanksgiving, Rose kindly called to chat about talk about the album.
This is your third full-length release, so for you, how have things changed in your approach to making a record from record one to now?
Up until this one, there really hasn’t been a change at all in terms of my approach. We basically go into the studio, I play the song acoustic, which is pretty much the first time the musicians hear it, we make some arrangement adjustments, and track it. But after making Rule 62 I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make the next one which will probably have some changes.
Well, what you have been doing is obviously working as the album has been very well-received. Once again you worked with Raul Malo; the two of you have a very strong working relationship.
I love working with Raul. He’s not only good at what he does, but he’s a good friend. We have so much fun in the studio - there’s this lightness to everything which is a really good thing to have because sometimes things can get heavy and tense and that’s not really the vibe I would want making any album.
Totally understand that.
You penned nine of the eleven tracks. Were they new, ones that were in your pocket, or a combination?
I had a couple in my pocket, but for the most part, the songs were ones that I started while on the road last year and finished up when I got home to Texas. I’m constantly writing, if not songs then ideas or narratives. It’ a thing I have to do. It keeps me sane.
South Texas Suite was a love letter to Texas, whereas this one seems to deal with the road and relationships. Is that pretty fair to say?
Sure. The album is a mixed bag of feelings I had to observations during my travels, things that were happening in the world and being a woman. And it’s funny you say that the songs are about relationships because I’ve been in a good, healthy one for over six years now and I noticed that I was writing all these breakup songs. At first, I had no idea where they came from, but it hit me one day that they were my reaction to not only being a woman in the industry, but being a woman in the world. I love being a woman, but I would say that sometimes it’s more difficult than being a man and this album is kind of representative of those feelings.
The album bookends with two songs about relationships, “I Don’t Want Half, I Just Want Out” and “Time To Cry.” Are there are any reasons you chose those to open and close the album?
I’ve always been drawn to albums that begin with just a vocal and then get into the swing of things, plus, I love opening albums with a punch, so that's why I opened with that one. Then, I was thinking about how I ended Heartbreaker Of The Year which was with a lullaby take on Hank Williams’ “There's a Tear in My Beer” and I wanted to do something a little different and go out with more of an obvious punch, which was the intention behind closing with that one.
That one definitely is a sassy kiss-off.
There are two songs, “You’re A Mess” which you didn’t write, and “Tied to the Wheel,” which you did. Can you choose one and relay the story behind it?
“You’re A Mess” was written by a Canadian singer-songwriter named Carol Macquarrie. I was on a tour as a backing vocalist maybe seven years ago and one night she and her band were the opening act. They performed “You’re A Mess” and pretty much two bars in I knew I wanted to record the song someday because it really resonated with me. I bought her album and I kept the song in my pocket for a long time and when I was deciding what songs to have on Rule 62, that one just fit with a lot of sentiments that the other songs held, so I felt it was very much the right time to do it. It was difficult too because I had more than enough songs to do all originals, but I love covering artists, especially those who haven’t had much of a shot at getting their music out there. It’s a great song that more people need to hear which is why I decided to put in on the record.
You’ve spoken a lot about the story behind the title. Is that a rule that you try to live by?
It’s something I try to live by, but I’m no angel (laughing). I try not to take myself too seriously, but it’s really difficult because life can get you down…but I’m trying.
That’s the best we all can do.
Congratulations on the Ameripolitan Award for Honky Tonk Female. Did that come as a surprise?
It was very much a surprise! Voting is all done by the public, so the last couple of years, I basically asked people on social media to vote for me – but to no avail. This year, I didn’t do that and so when I found out I was nominated, I thought well, that’s [not asking] effective (laughing)! Ameripolitan and Americana are where I feel the most at home, so to be recognized by one of them is really, really cool.
It’s really validating too, I imagine.
Now that the year is coming to a close, is there anything that you look back on as personal accomplishments?
Well, the EP and record came out and I did my first big European tour for two months which was a huge accomplishment. I saw so many places I wanted to see for so long and I got to eat all of that delicious food while doing what I love, so that was huge for me! Now, I’m just excited to be home for the holidays. I want to decompress, get back into my creative headspace, and gear up for 2018 which is shaping up to be pretty busy.
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