Published Apr 20, 2015A defiantly retro honkytonk sound marks Whitney Rose as something of a maverick in this era of formulaic rock- and pop-inflected country music. It's fitting that the Toronto-based singer-songwriter has been given a huge career boost by American roots-rock veterans the Mavericks.
On Tuesday (April 21), Cameron House Records will release Heartbreaker of the Year, Rose's sophomore album. It was produced by Mavericks main man Raul Malo, who also plays guitar, adds backing vocals, and duets with Rose on a version of '60s classic "Be My Baby." Fellow Mavericks Paul Deakin, Jay Weaver and Jerry Dale McFadden also contribute, alongside Toronto A-list players Burke Carroll, Drew Jurecka, and guitarist Nichol Robertson (described by Rose as "my musical right hand man").
The album was recorded in just four days at Revolution Recording in Toronto. The quick and spontaneous recording approach suited Rose just perfectly, she tells Exclaim! over pints at the Cameron House, the Toronto live music venue where everything began for her.
"This is precisely the record I wanted to make and with the musicians I wanted," she says. "The final product is very much what you'll get if you come to a live show. A couple of parts where my voice breaks a little bit is fine, because the emotion is there. That can't be said for a lot of records being put out these days."
The fortuitous Malo and the Mavericks connection dates back to September 2013. On the strength of her acclaimed self-titled 2012 debut, Rose was chosen to open a Toronto show for them. A musical and personal bond quickly formed, with Rose and Robertson then opening Mavericks shows across Canada.
The eight originals on Heartbreaker of the Year are all solo compositions. Rose doesn't rule out future co-writing, but declares her disdain for that Nashville assembly line method of co-writing. "That's unfortunate, as there's a lot of money in that. To me, songs do have forms, but when they have a formula, that is plastic and dehumanizing, and that's not anything I want to be a part of."
The traditional sound of Heartbreaker precludes it from commercial country radio airplay, as Rose is quite aware.
"I don't expect to hear myself following Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith on the radio," she chuckles.
When the Whitney Rose album was released, she was still a real novice as a solo artist. "It hadn't even been a year since I first started performing my songs with a band, doing all my songs. My record label, Cameron House Records, was really new too. Since then, we have each done so much to build our profiles, while holding hands."
Rose is now getting ready to take Heartbreaker of the Year on the road, beginning with an album release party at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern (featuring "special guests") tomorrow night (April 21), followed by three Ontario dates with the Mavericks and a solo cross-country tour.
You can also stream all of Heartbreaker of the Year here on Exclaim!
04/21 Toronto, ON - The Horseshoe Tavern (album release show)
04/22 Hamilton, ON - Hamilton Place*
04/23 Belleville, ON - Empire Theatre*
04/24 Toronto, ON - Phoenix Concert Centre*
05/14 Sudbury, ON - The Townehouse
05/15 Sault Ste Marie, ON - Lop Lops
05/16 Thunder Bay, ON - Crocks
05/20 Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom *
05/21 Kamloops, BC - Cactus Jack's
05/23 Calgary, AB Reclaimed Canada Trading Post
05/24 Jasper, AB - Jasper Legion
05/26 Edmonton, AB - Mercury Room
05/27 Saskatoon, SK - Village Guitar Co
05/28 Regina, SK - Mercury Café
05/30 Drumheller, AB - Handhill Stampede
06/02 Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centre
07/10 Mirimichi, NB - Vogue Theatre
07/11 Cavendish, PE - Cavendish Beach Music Festival
07/12 Port Hawkesbury, NS - Granville Green ^
07/15 Riverview, NB - Caseley Park Summer Series
* with Mavericks
^ with Sarah Harmer