Album Review – Whitney Rose’s “Rosie”
Country music is the genre you turn to when you’re in pain. No offense to any other forms of music or their respective applications, but you can’t beat country for nursing a broken heart, commiserating with others, or trying to come back from an ailment. There’s a reason many of those old Grand Ole Opry broadcasts were often dedicated to “the sick and shut in” who couldn’t be there or anywhere else in person. People could find comfort from the pain from the music coming out of their console radios.
Whitney Rose spent over a decade doing what she could to alleviate the pain of others through the medium of country music. For her that meant moving away from her home in Canada, cultivating a career and a grassroots following by earning a residency at Austin’s iconic Continental Club where she spent years playing a Happy Hour slot, and touring around the country every chance she could. Little did she know she would be the one in need of help eventually.
An undisclosed, but devastating illness put Whitney Rose down for the count in December of 2022, including a stint in the hospital. Unable to work, and in a tremendous amount of pain, she was forced to move back home to Prince Edward Island in Canada, and convalesce. At that point, it was just as much about survival as anything else, and her music career had to be put on pause. But through that pain, she has persevered to release Rosie, which takes her own pain and struggles, and puts them to good use in an exquisite traditional country record.
Where Whitney’s last album We Still Go To Rodeos took a more country rock approach, Rosie goes back to her country roots, and in a big way. This is a twangy, heartbreaker of a country record, and whatever physical anguish Whitney may be in, she sings through it, finds strength and inspiration from it, and delivers in front of a crack group of Austin musicians that includes guitarist Dave Biller, multi-instrumentalist Rich Brotherton, Warren Hood on fiddle, Brad Fordham on bass, and Lisa Pankratz on drums.
Some of these songs may have been written or recorded before Whitney Rose’s latest health woes, but they sure do work to relay her present situation, none better than the devastating “Minding My Own Pain.” When you’re stuck somewhere and can’t leave, sometimes the only relief is going somewhere nicer in your mind, like a “Honky Tonk in Mexico,” or to Memphis like Rose sings about in “Memphis In My Mind.”
Sometimes it helps to reminisce on warm memories from the past like Whitney does on the sole song she did not write for the album, “Can’t Remember Happiness” by Joanne Mackell. The writing on the album is pretty excellent, while remaining accessible, like the reflective “My Own Jail,” or the great classic country shuffle “You’re Gonna Get Lonely.”
The name of the album is Rosie since that’s the nickname that Whitney Rose’s husband, manager, and producer Michael McKeown uses. The personal relationship continues, but the professional one comes to a conclusion with this album. But not before Rosie marks perhaps Whitney Rose’s top contribution to traditional country music, and one that may go on to be considered one of the top releases in country music in 2023.
Taking the pain in life and making it into human expressions that have the innate power to heal is what the greatest country music is all about. It’s like chicken soup for the soul, and Rosie‘s recipe here is especially efficacious.
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May 22, 2023 @ 8:25 am
She has a fantastic voice.
Please find a producer who will cut clean productions.
Get rid of the muddied two tin cans with a string vibe.
Fantastic voice that really needs to be out there.
In the ethers, streaming, wherever.
May 22, 2023 @ 11:09 am
She sounds like Susanna Hoffs, which is a good thing.
May 22, 2023 @ 11:39 am
You nailed it, Corncaster.
Just like Susannah Hoff’s.
Sweet, wonderful, powerful voice(s).
May 22, 2023 @ 9:28 am
I like the recording, and think it’s perfectly clean. The steel guitar playing is really good too.
She’s great, I’m sorry she had some health issues at such a young age, too, but suspect she’ll incorporate that experience into her songs, which is a net plus.
May 22, 2023 @ 10:13 am
Thanks for this. I listened to this a couple of days ago, and I fell victim to what I personally call the “Taylor Swift Syndrome,” that is – some artists’ voices tend to drone and every song sounds the same. (think of Taylor Swift’s first album)
However, after reading your rave review, I gave it another chance, and I’m glad that I did. Definitely a quality album.
May 22, 2023 @ 11:07 am
If Biller (who knows quality) is on it, I’m in.
May 22, 2023 @ 2:33 pm
I love her voice. She is a great singer, and any person who sings a song called mermaid in a pantsuit has my money.
May 22, 2023 @ 5:13 pm
I liked Rose’s early stuff, but wasn’t crazy about her last album. A little time off has got her back in the Honky Tonk lane, and in my opinion, she has hit her stride with her best release yet. Welcome back to the country Whitney.
May 22, 2023 @ 8:22 pm
I’ll be honest, I’ve only played the previous album two-three times. Looking forward to getting my signed copy in the mail because I think it’s going to be great!
May 22, 2023 @ 8:37 pm
We Still Go To Rodeos wasn’t horrible, just a departure from her earlier stuff. I’m just glad it was a one off departure rather than a permanent change. Good to see her back in the country lane.
May 23, 2023 @ 12:30 am
Every song sounds the same. The production is thin as well.