South Texas Suite EP
(Six Shooter Records/Thirty Tigers)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canadian countrypolitan chanteuse Whitney Rose headed down to warmer climates to work a winter engagement at Austin’s famed Continental Club and fell in love with the Texas capitol. She stayed long enough to record this short but sweet six song EP in just two days. The modest follow-up to her well-received 2015 Raul Malo produced Heartbreaker of the Year utilizes some veterans of that city’s roots scene. Perhaps she should have hung around twice as long and gotten a full album out of it.
It won’t take long to hear Malo’s influence on this self-produced effort as well. The opening “Three Minute Love Affair” incorporates the Latin influences that have been a constant in Mavericks’ recordings along with prominent Tex-Mex accordion on a tribute to the evanescent relationship created when a couple two-steps their way through a song on the dance floor. It’s sweet, touching and tangy, like the rest of this disc. Rose’s honeyed voice, somewhat similar to Rosanne Cash’s, perfectly captures both the sassy, strut of “My Boots” where Rose proudly wears outfits from thrift stores regardless of what’s expected and the reflective ballad with exquisite fiddle and pedal steel “Looking Back on Luckenbach,” a love letter to that city.
Rose also asserts her disregard for anything digital in the appropriately titled and surprisingly sultry “Analog,” where legendary guitarist Redd Volkaert provides support as she sings “Keep your Touch Tunes and Spotify/I want to hear that needle skipping on the old hi-fi” with a mix of defiance and pride.
It’s unfortunate that a platter which runs less than 25 minutes includes filler, but there is little else to call the closing 1:40 studio instrumental jam “How ‘Bout a Hand for the Band.” It’s clearly fun for the musicians involved but not interesting enough to pad an already too-brief release. Otherwise this is a terrific stop-gap release to tide us over, remind us how talented Whitney Rose is and whet country fans’ appetite for her next full album.