Listen up, Mr. Trump. If you need to be convinced that immigrants can contribute significantly to these United States—and apparently you still do—look no further than the example of singer/songwriter Whitney Rose. A Canadian expatriate who settled in Austin to find her footing in the clubs and venues of that hallowed city, she’s sharpened her skills and her mind set, making music that emulates the sounds generally associated with barrooms and honky-tonks, as opposed to the environs associated with the outer banks of Prince Edward Island where she came of age.
Rose’s EP, South Texas Suite, released earlier this year, marked a continuation in her trajectory as well as a reflective pause. A self-described love letter to her adopted state of Texas, it found her asserting her adulation for the place she’s so happy to call home. It also connected her with Raul Malo of the Mavericks, who, along with Niko Bolas, reprises his role of producer on Rule 62, while also contributing to a backing band that includes Mavs drummer Paul Deakin, the Jayhawks’ Jen Gunderman on keys and ace guitarist Kenny Vaughan.
Not surprisingly then, the album finds Rose continuing to sow the seeds of the Americana mindset as plied from its roots. The songs, all of which Rose wrote except for two, have a timeless quality—the gentle sway of “You Don’t Scare Me,” the lilting “Tied to the Wheel,” the resilient resolve of “Arizona,” the sturdy swagger of “Can’t Stop Shakin’” all being prime examples. Each sounds like a standard even on first listen. A poignant ballad like “Trucker’s Funeral” resonates as if it came from the pen of Kris Kristofferson. “Wake Me In Wyoming” is something Tammy Wynette might have sung while pouring her tears into a beer. Like Malo, Rose has acquired a deft talent for penning timeless material, one reason perhaps that the two found such an ideal fit.
That said, what’s particularly striking here is how Rose matches credence with confidence. Her voice, a gentle and unassuming croon, gives her music a quiet caress, making them effortlessly engaging each time out. Rule 62 shows she has firmly etched her identity in a genre that begs for singularity. Whatever rule it is that the title refers to has likely found Rose taking it to heart.