Whitney Rose still searching for inspiration for that next perfect song

“It’s what I love, I’m not happy if I’m not writing,” says Canadian country artist Whitney Rose. “And so the realization of those two things, it’s a no-brainer, you know — if you’re a songwriter you should be fucking writing songs.”

Well, on this day you could probably say she’s, um, pretty fucking happy.

In Memphis for a little solitude before the start of a pretty extensive tour, which brings her to Calgary for a Saturday, Feb. 17 show at the Webber Academy Performing Arts Centre, she has already banged out two-and-a-half new tunes.

While she admits she’s “not usually that prolific,” just talking with her you can hear how driven she is at this point in her career — where she is both artistically and physically.

On the latter point, the P.E.I.-born Rose moved down to Austin and fell in love with it, as documented on her early 2017 EP South Texas Suite.

Two years in it is, she says, still a place of infinite inspiration and fuel for her ambition.

“I get schooled,” she says. “I’ve met and befriended some of my favourite songwriters in the world now and so obviously that is really inspiring and also it kicks my ass and shows me that I’m still not good enough and I need to be writing every day and I need to be playing my guitar every day, it’s so constant.

“The vibe in Austin is so artistically driven, it’s all about the art in Austin, whereas I think in Nashville — Nashville is very different because that’s where shit gets done. Shit’s done in Nashville, on the business side and everything, but in Austin it’s all about the art.

“So that has been really inspiring and humbling.”

Musically, she’s at the top of her game as shown on her sophomore full-length, the stunning Rule 62. Co-produced by Niko Bolas and her good friend and Mavericks frontman Raul Malo, it’s a twangy, jangly, timeless, classic country record full of charm, warmth and sizzle, and powered by a voice that sounds as if it’s made of bourbon-soaked rose hips and honeysuckle.

And those songs?

Handcrafted character, that run from the heartbroken heartbreaker Better to My Baby, to the barely standing by your man of You’re A Mess, to her fabulous, girl group-like single Can’t Stop Shakin’, which comes complete with a sassy, ’60sy video.

“I decided that it was time to let the world see that I can’t dance.”

That song, she admits, came about fairly easy, with her and Malo having a conversation about

anxiety, including performance anxiety. She admitted to him that sometimes before she goes on stage she gets so nervous that she physically shakes and dances around her green room singing the same line over and over, “Can’t stop shaking.”

He asked her what else gave her the jitters, with politics being an obvious one, considering the conversation was actually taking place on inauguration day in her adopted country.

“I listed off a few different things and he was like, ‘Great, the songs almost done. You just need a couple more lines and we’ll record it soon.’ …

“Sometimes they just come to you,” she says. “It’s not always that easy.”

That said, one of the album standouts, Trucker’s Funeral, was literally as simple as walking into a bank.

“It was actually a pretty crazy moment in my life,” she says of the episode that happened soon after she relocated.

Rose was at the Bank of America setting up an account, which apparently takes a long time and requires a lot of papers to sign when your profession is musician.

“It’s the most boring and depressing thing in the world,” she says.

“I was just kind of deflated and like, ‘OK can we wrap this up?’ Then the dude who was setting up my account just spontaneously — I still have no idea what compelled him to tell me this story — but he told me this story about his grandfather who was a trucker in Texas and he died a few years ago. And when everyone in his family went to his funeral a completely separate family showed up from California and neither family had any idea that the other existed.

“He had two completely separate families where all the kids were the same ages, there wasn’t one family first, they were two totally simultaneous families.

“My mind was blown and I was writing lyrics down on my banking contracts like a maniac trying not to miss anything. It was just too good of a story not to tell.”

She continues. “I’ve been meaning now for months to go back into that branch and give him a copy of the album but I have not done that yet. I’m a shitty person.”

Nah. But a lucky one to walk out of that financial institution with the perfect storytelling country song a la Coward of the County and Ode to Billie Joe.

It’s perfect.

“For us, yeah, not for the families,” she says.

And don’t expect the well to run dry any time soon for Rose as she admits while she’s on tour she collects stories, anecdotes and observations, saving them for moments like this day in Memphis when she has time to wrap them in melody, make them perfect for those perfect pipes.

“I probably have a lifetime of those notes,” she admits. “I could probably never meet anyone for the rest of my life and still write a song every day with everything that I’ve seen and all of the people I’ve met.”

No chance of that. Not when she’s ready for more to come in her career, ready to make things happen, still driven to keep writing, keep searching for that next song.

Or, as she says quite simply, “I’m never content.”

Happy, but not content.

Whitney Rose performs Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Webber Academy Performing Arts Centre.