The first question some of you may have as I know I did – what is Rule 62? It takes its name from Alcoholics Anonymous excerpt that can be summed up quickly as “Don’t Take Yourself Too Damn Seriously.” It’s this principle that guides her work. Whitney Rose journeyed to Nashville, collaborated with her buddy, Raul Malo and co-producer Niko Bolas who assembled some top shelf musicians. Malo plays guitars, percussion and harmonizes while Jen Gunderman handles the keyboards, Kenny Vaughan adds his distinctive lead guitar licks, and Chris Scruggs and Aaron Til from Asleep at the Wheel add steel guitar and fiddle respectively. Paul Deakin and Jay Weaver from The Mavericks comprise the rhythm section.
Like Rose’s debut, 2015’s Heartbreaker of the Year, Rose channels the 70s sound of country but broadens the palette her with girl group sounds and even some deep soul on “Can’t Stop Shakin’.”As you listen, some of her strains will sound familiar. “You Never Cross My Mind” evokes Danny O’Keffe’s “Goodtime Charlie’s Got the Blues.” “Trucker’s Funeral” brings to mind John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.” There are nine originals paired with covers of “Tied to the Wheel” and “You’re a Mess.”
Several of these tunes stem from either an interesting song idea or events that are too hard to ignore. “Can’t Stop Shakin’” was written as an anti- anxiety treatment in Memphis dance party form but the song ended up being recorded on Inauguration Day. Rose says, “…you could physically feel the divide between the public and the unrest in the air…So the song that started as a personal anthem got a rewrite that day.” Breakup themes imbue the angst-ridden “Arizona” and “Time to Cry.” Rose says, “I wasn’t sure where all these feelings were coming from until one day it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was penning these songs to society.” Keeping the balance is important so there’s a bit of humor too.
”Better to My Baby” is an exercise in 60s girl group pop conventions. Here touring experience led her to “Meet Me in Wyoming” and the musician-as-trucker analogy in “Trucker’s Funeral.” It’s actually a true story. Says Rose, “I had a meeting at Bank of America here in Austin last year and when the meeting was over the teller told me about going to his grandfather’s funeral here in Texas. He found out he had a full second family on the West Coast. His grandfather was a trucker and always on the road, so neither family had any idea. As he was telling me this story, was jotting down lyrics on my banking papers because it was too intriguing an experience not to be made into a song.”
It would be difficult to miss with this cast of versatile musicians. Yet, Rose has a voice and phrasing that may have you reminiscing of classic singers like Bobbie Gentry and Nancy Sinatra. There’s a swagger, self-confidence, and, in keeping with Rule 62, healthy doses of humility.