Whitney Rose: Rule 62

Photo: Six Shooter Records

Keeping the balance between human drama and melodrama is a neat trick. Rose sings in a whispery, honey-dripped voice about life’s existential questions to a two-step beat and the twang of a steel guitar.

Whitney Rose

Rule 62

Label: Six Shooter
US Release Date: 2017-10-06

Whitney Rose named her new record Rule 62. For those not in the know, Rule 62 stands for the aphorism: "don't take yourself too damn seriously". That wryly fits the contents of Rose's material. She sings about extremes. Whether the topic is truck driving or funerals, making the first move or getting divorced, being scared or feeling passionate, Rose delivers the lines straight with a twist. There's a thin line between telling a compelling, detailed story and being absurd. The key, Rose acknowledges, it to have it both ways.

Rose penned nine of the 11 tracks and sings them from the heart, even with a lump in her throat, but with her tongue often in her cheek. This is pure country music, Texas-style, meant for the state's distinctive dance floors, nightclubs, dive bars, and open-air venues. The adopted Lone Star resident roped the Mavericks' Raul Malo in to produce the record, and he adds to the music's distinctive Western flavor with percussive touches, acoustic guitar, and even his own voice. More importantly, Malo keeps the vibe mellow. Even on a song about heartbreak, such as “Never Crossed My Mind", Malo keeps Roses' tears inside. She deadpans the stoic lyrics as if not ever needing a friend and never crying are the way one should behave. She hasn't lost hope as she sings about having lost her hope.

Maintaining the balance between human drama and melodrama is a neat trick. Rose sings in a whispery, honey-dripped voice about life's existential questions to a two-step beat and the twang of a steel guitar. What is love, meaningful work, family, life itself? Rose may not know the answers, but she shares the passion these questions raise without going crazy. So, when she finds out her trucker dad's funeral that he has another family in California, she doesn't cry. She moves on. As Rick in Casablanca famously noted, “that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." Okay, Rose's dad had six kids by two different wives, but the truth remains the same. Rule 62, Don't let it drive you nuts.

That philosophy gives her strength. Like James Bond's drink, she may be shaken, but she's not stirred. Or perhaps “Shakin'" is a better word, as in “Can't Stop Shakin'". Rose may have some kind of strange boogie fever, but losing control is just another way of dealing with the terror of the 6:00 news and needing to be held tightly at night in bed. She may sing, “You Don't Scare Me" in a confident voice, but that's only because her heart's already been broken so badly that no one else could ever hurt her again. And when Rose croons being “Better to My Baby", it's to her honey's new beau. She knows he was wise to leave her and admits she would do anything to bring him back to her bed.

Rose offers a number of road-related songs as well. She understands the solace of being on the move when life is a mess as well as the pain of being apart from those one loves and how those two things can coexist at the same time. “Show that highway no mercy," she sings on “Wake Me in Wyoming" with a hurt in her voice that could stop traffic in all directions. She's not telling anyone where to go. She just wants to get out.

Indeed, whether Rose is trying to get out of town, out of state, out of her mind, out of a relationship, or even out of a marriage, she puts the pedal to the medal of her cold, cold heart that hurts from iced over feelings. Don't worry about it. Just enjoy the ride.

Related Articles Around the Web

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.