“Don’t ask me how I got this way / Oh, that’s asking too much” cries Whitney Rose amidst the whirlwind chorus as she rattles off the title line “I’m In A Rut” an appropriately repetitive 28 total times. Only her delivery is so rapid-fire, gaps collapsed between the few words and syllables, that the first time I heard it I’d guessed it to be “Haminera” (go ahead and listen, you won’t be able to unhear it that way, and I’ve played it a lot since then). No mistranslation of the seemingly dispiriting message, though, could possibly detract from the contradictory feeling of anticipatory exhilaration that arrives with the levitating, brief pre-chorus jump (to A major), Rose’s high-octane, twangy belting, and a succession of raw, reverberating guitar solos of which Keith Richards or Dave Alvin would be proud.
Rose, a rootsy Austin, Texas based honky-tonk heartbreaker by way of considerably non-country origins in Prince Edward Island, Canada, has just released her fourth full-length album, 2020’s “We Still Go To Rodeos,” and has inspired rapturous reviews such as “Boot-stomping rhythms and take-no-guff lyrics rich with sly wisdom” (Rolling Stone); “A casual, assured Americana tour de force” (AllMusic); and “A sultry country classicist with a winsome tremble in her voice” (NY Times). Amen to all that. And, to those delicious cowpunk guitars, churning out crunchy yet melodic riffs throughout the album delivered by the can’t-miss names of Dave Leroy Biller, Rich Brotherton, and, my personal favorite, Gurf Morlix (surely an outtake character from Dr. Seuss when he’s not snapping strings with Stones-y swagger).
On the current atmosphere for her new tune, Rose says any connection is merely coincidental. “The (timing for) the release of this song is probably pretty good. I think a lot of people are feeling that way. But that definitely wasn’t intentional. I didn’t start this pandemic so that people could relate to my song.” Statements of the obvious aside, getting the chance to hear a crackling workout with the fervor of this one, it would almost have been worth it if she had. Now forgive me, I think I’ll play it again. And then again. You might say I’m in a bit of a rut.