It’s a long way from Prince Edward Islands, Canada to Austin, Texas. But honky-tonkin’ chanteuse Whitney Rose has not only packed her boots and moved south, she’s managed to soak up huge slumps of her new home state’s rich musical culture and heritage.
Rose’s new EP, South Texas Suite, is a romantic and nostalgic love letter to the Lone Star State, penned by someone of profound Texan insight.
Following her acclaimed 2015 album Heartbreaker of the Year, produced by Raul Malo (The Mavericks), Whitney Rose headed to Texas on what was supposed to be a two-month residency at Austin’s The Continental Club. Smitten by the town’s friendly atmosphere and vibrant music community, she had no intentions of leaving. Since then, she’s toured with Sam Outlaw, made her European live debut and signed with Thirty Tigers-distributed Six Shooter Records.
Rose recorded South Texas Suite over two days at Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Studios, accompanied by ace players such as Redd Volkaert, Merle Haggard’s former guitarist; Earl Poole Ball, who spent two decades tickling keyboards for Johnny Cash; Kevin Smith, now playing bass in Willie Nelson’s Family Band; and Tom Lewis, who’s drummed with the Mavericks. Even though it’s only 6 songs and 25 minutes short, it covers two-steppers, Tex-Mex, Western swing and barroom waltzes.
We took the opportunity to chat with Whitney Rose while on tour through Scandinavia.
Who is Whitney Rose – can you please introduce yourself?
I’m a gal from Prince Edward Island and now I Iive in Texas. I write and sing songs and get up to no good most of the time. My first crushes were Dwight Yoakam and David Bowie.
Congratulations with a new EP. What do we get and what’s it about?
Thank you! You get a mini collection of tunes that I either wrote or love relating to my new home state of Texas.
Can you tell the story behind the wonderfully drawn album cover?
I got sick of seeing my own face on album art and elsewhere so I wanted to do something different. I guess it’s still my face… kind of.
What inspired you the most when you started writing the songs that ended up on South Texas Suite?
The simplicity and pride of Texas. And two-stepping.
What can you share about the recording process and working with this material in the studio?
Recording this EP is something that will stay with me until the day I die. The musicians who were recruited are all world class and brought so much experience collectively to the studio. I learned a lot in those two days and had to pinch myself a few times to remind myself that yes, that is indeed Johnny Cash’s piano player (Earl Poole Ball) playing my songs. We recorded at my pal Dale Watson’s place so everything was very relaxed, too. Just a great experience overall.
What kind of feelings or sentiment do you wish leaving for the listener?
It’s a record advocating simplicity and autonomy. So I guess I want people to feel at peace and to be their damn selves!
Please describe a preferred setting to ultimately enjoy the album?
Anywhere as long as there’s something to drink and something to smoke! And if you can, listen to it on vinyl – that’s how it sounds best.
You’re stranded on an island for an indefinite period of time, only allowed to bring one book, one album and one other person. Who and what would you bring?
I’d bring “How To Not Go Crazy Stranded On An Island For An Indefinite Period Of Time” (assuming it’s been written) for a book, Pieces of the Sky by Emmylou Harris for a record and Mammy Darlin’ (my grandmother) for a companion.
What’s coming next for Whitney Rose?
I get back to Texas in June then I go on the road again. Then I get back to Texas again, release a record in the fall and then go on the road again! Wanna come?