Since storming onto the Toronto singer-songwriter scene in 2011 Whitney Rose has endeared herself to just about everyone with her powerful voice, immense personal charm, and throwback style influenced by Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells and, gender-be-damned, the likes of Tom T. Hall and George Jones. She started singing at her grandparent's kitchen parties as well as in their little PEI bar at approximately the time she was able to walk and/or form sentences. This comes across. Whitney may be young, but don't let that fool you. There's an ancient appeal to her. As Exclaim! Magazine wrote, "At best, abstractly, Rose is something like Leadbelly singing "Goodnight Irene," beloved by young and old alike, timeless."
Rose describes her music as 'vintage-pop-infused-neo-traditional-country,' usually with a chuckle, and admits "The record is a little weird, it's a little quirky, but so am I. I went out and made a record that was true to me, not one with its singular purpose being its viability on country music radio."
After supporting genre-defying country legends, The Mavericks, on tour throughout Canada in 2014, Malo was inspired to produce, play, and sing with Rose on her album. "I love this record," says Malo. "I'm honoured to have played a part in the making of it. The songs are so strong no one could ruin them...not even me."
Recorded in four days at Revolution Studios in Toronto the album also features Jay Weaver (Mavericks, Dolly Parton) on bass, Nichol Robertson (Devin Cuddy Band) on guitars, Jerry Dale McFadden (Mavericks) on keys, Paul Deakin (Mavericks) on drums, Burke Carroll on pedal steel, and Drew Jurecka on strings. Learning the songs on the spot, the band came through with a completely spontaneous recording that brings Rose's wondrous vocals and discerning lyrical content to the spotlight. Heartbreaker Of The Year was mixed at Capitol Records by Niko Bolas (Neil Young, Keith Richards, Rod Stewart), who supposes he "should take this opportunity to wax poetic about the charm, wit, and sexy cynicism of Whitney Rose, but that's allot of words. So I will just say she has the shit."
"It was a perfect storm." Rose states. "Raul and his band The Mavericks had a show on PEI and their next show was in Ottawa five days later. We managed to bring a few of them into the studio for four days to cut ten tracks. Excepting Raul, none of the guys had heard my demos so the recording process was entirely spontaneous. It was a magical musical experience. I don't even care how cliche of a statement that is. It just was. Witnessing what Raul and the band did with these songs I had written was incredibly humbling and educational. He is a musical monster."
It's no shock that Rose would pay respect to her vintage pop and classic country roots with two covers - a duet with Malo on The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and and a haunting lullaby take on Hank Williams' "There's a Tear In My Beer." The other eight tracks on Heartbreaker Of The Year are Whitney Rose originals which present the musical stylings of her influences for the modern era. Songs of heartbreak ("Heartbreaker of the Year"), love ("Ain't It Wise"), love lost ("The Last Party"), firsts ("My First Rodeo"), being a brat ("The Devil Borrowed My Boots"), and unhealthy coping mechanisms ("Only Just A Dream") cement the fact that the classic country themes are upheld here too.
The album will be Rose's second on Cameron House Records. An offshoot of the legendary Toronto club, made famous by Handsome Ned, Cameron House Records is carrying on the tradition of being a driving force behind the burgeoning roots music scene. Along with Whitney Rose, other signees include Doug Paisley, The Devin Cuddy Band, Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs, and Al Tuck.