In 2015 one of the major topics of the year was the infamous Tomato Gate. It brought a lot of attention to the ongoing issue of female country artists not getting a fair shake on country radio. While there were a few tongue in cheek comments and a few angry tweets, the female artist of mainstream country music really didn’t do anything about it and that left me disappointed. This left the field wide open for Country Perspective’s 2015 Female Artist of the Year and gave more unknown names a shot at winning. For Derek and myself it ultimately came down to the music. We asked ourselves who pushed the boundaries the most and brought something new to the table we haven’t heard before. Two artists’ fans rallied behind them and flooded our nominees post with numerous votes of support, but we could only choose one to win. The winner of Country Perspective’s 2015 Female Artist of the Year is Whitney Rose.
As I said above it came down to the music for us and who pushed the boundaries the most with it. Whitney Rose’s album Heartbreaker of the Year clearly did this better than the other nominees’ albums. Teamed up with producer Raul Malo, Rose did something with this album I don’t say very much after hearing an album and that is “I didn’t expect this at all.” This album is clearly rooted in traditional country and even country and western. It’s palpable throughout the album. But then the influence of Raul Malo starts to shine through. There’s influences of retro pop, Motown, gospel, jazz and blues. Anyone who has ever heard an album from The Mavericks knows how much they love to blend genres. It doesn’t work for every artist, but for Rose it fits perfectly. And what’s brilliant about listening to Heartbreaker of the Year is not knowing what you’re going to hear next.
You start off with “Little Piece of You,” which undoubtedly has a Motown influence laced with traditional country. Then you have an upbeat, western-style song like “My First Rodeo” and a stirring love ballad like “The Last Party.” The Motown sound returns with “Only Just a Dream” and then this is followed by the album’s title track, which is arguably the best on the record. Mixing vintage pop with traditional country, it tells a gripping story about an intriguing man who has caught Rose’s eye. But what really makes this song shine is Rose’s voice, which is at it’s best on this song. Raul Malo joins Rose on multiple songs on this album, but it’s his duet with Rose on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” where you really hear him. Their voices are like warm butter and together they’re a dream pairing. Malo is one of the best voices in country music and Rose is well on her way to joining him. If they made an entire album of duets, I would buy it in a heart beat.
Rose shows her fun side on the quirky “The Devil Borrowed My Boots,” “Ain’t It Wise” is another song that sounds like it was straight out of the 50s and “Lasso” is one of the most pure country songs on Heartbreaker of the Year. It’s the final song on this album though that shows how fearlessness of Rose. She covers the famous Hank Williams’ song “There’s a Tear in My Beer” and does it admirably. Covering Hank is daunting enough. Rose chooses to not only cover Hank, but close her album with it. The final song on an album is pretty important, as it’s the last thing the listener hears and is the final impression. This was a big risk by Rose and it ends up paying off beautifully.
This is only the second album Whitney Rose has ever released and already I can tell her future is bright. She has the potential to make stunning and memorable music for many years to come. I think I can speak for many in saying that I look forward to what comes next for this Canadian country artist. This is only just the start for her. The best is yet to come for Whitney Rose.