In a fairer world, it would be authentic country artists like Whitney Rose that sold out arenas and dominated country radio, not the banal hat acts purveying their bro-country schlock, here and in the U.S.
Undeterred, this young Canadian singer/songwriter (now based in Austin) continues to hone her craft while receiving plenty of peer and critical respect. Rose's big break came when she caught the ear of Raul Malo, leader of the Mavericks, and he produced her second album, 2015's Heartbreaker of the Year. He's back on board for Rule 62, also contributing guitar and understated but effective vocal harmonies (Niko Bolas co-produced). The album was recorded in Nashville, and players like Mavericks drummer Paul Deakin, steel guitarist Chris Scruggs and lead guitarist Kenny Vaughn ensure that the accompaniment is of the highest calibre. B3, fiddle, accordion and, on a couple of cuts, saxophones result in a full sound, but the focus throughout is correctly placed on Rose's pure and retro-sounding vocals and well-constructed songs.
There are two covers here, "Tied to the Wheel" and "You're a Mess," but it's the original tunes that most catch the ear. Rose is equally at home on tear-in-your-beer ballads like "You Never Cross My Mind" and uptempo foot-stompers, and she shows her emerging skill as a storyteller on "Trucker's Funeral," "Arizona" and "Wake Me in Wyoming." She puts a fresh spin on divorce with the strong opening cut, "I Don't Want Half (I Just Want Out)," a highlight on the consistently strong Rule 62, which shows Rose is definitely on the right track. (Six Shooter)