We Still Go to Rodeos
Meltingly Gorgeous Countrypolitan Goodness
To say I’ve been looking forward to this release is an understatement – Ms Rose’ previous melodic Classic Country has always ticked the right boxes for this particular reviewer (Me too! ED.) – and “We Still Go to Rodeos” surpasses all expectations.
Now releasing independently via her own MCG management/label, this has seemingly given her greater control to do things her way – and what we have is a delicious potpourri of styles, which is far closer in style to the live Whitney Rose ‘experience’ than perhaps her previous releases.
Kicking things off is “Just Circumstance” a character song coming from the same observational well as the likes of “Truckers’ Funeral;” but this tale tells of a poor girl whose choices in the ‘dice-man’ challenge of life always take her down a path where there’s “No pomp – just circumstance”, set to an arrangement that sounds like early Blondie, if they’d played in Austin rather than NYC.
“Home with you” is meltingly gorgeous Countrypolitan goodness that should unfreeze the hardest of hearts – great chorus too
“I wanna go home with you
Be alone with you
Maybe sit out I the yard and get stoned with you”.
The first single release from the album “Believe me Angela” follows and is a tale of a jilted wife offering sincere and practical advice to the younger woman who’s run off with her man #spoiler – He’s not worth it (he’s a dick!).
The tempo lifts again with a song that Whitney drew from personal experience – “In a Rut” – full of guitars that echo Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, and driven along by the formidable Pankrantz/Fordham rhythm section, framing an earworm that’s as catchy as…let’s not go there….but it is damn catchy.
Hank definitely didn’t do it (musically) this way, but he’d certainly approve the attitude!
“A hundred shades of blue” takes things down with latin-tinged minor key melody that would go down well with the customers at Twin Peak’s Roadhouse Bang Bang bar (David Lynch, please take note).
“I’d rather be alone” is anthemic chugga-chugga 70’s NY pop song, but with added banjos! In my universe it is already in full rotation on the music video station in my head.
“You’d blame me for the rain” is a sultry surprise – Dave Leroy Biller’s bluesy country-soul guitar lines, frame a late-night melody that confidently takes Whitney into previously uncharted musical territory – and wins.
“Fell through the cracks” is in power ballad territory, with Whitney delivering an effortless lesson in how to match the emotion of a song to its delivery – no fake histrionics here.
“Don’t give up on me” is an understated shuffle where the vocal and melody are to the fore in an ages old tale where you “fight until you bleed” to get the one you love – very much a statement of intent for the listener too. “Better Man” takes things up again and actually makes me think of a country version of The Undertones – hand-clap drumbeats and soaring bass and guitar iced with a nonchalantly assured vocal will have you leaping around your room hoping the neighbours don’t see you (I didn’t just do that by the way. Honest).
“Thanks for trying” keeps the loud guitars plugged in and is another single finger to a man/The Man.
Credit must go to producer Paul Kolderie for the harmonious balancing of the various stringed styles throughout, but especially here, where Pettyesque twangy guitar crunch, mixes with but doesn’t clash with raucous steel-guitar;a good job well done, sir!
The album ends in quieter mode with the Summery harmonica led and gently percussive title track – a further ‘statement of intent’ from an album that contains several more; metaphorically, musically and literally too. “There’s lots of things that we ain’t got” sings Whitney “We’ve got something different of our own” – this album shows that “something different” is definitely “something special”.
Released 24th April 2020
Review by Nick Barber