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Maggie Rose’s Nashville Comeback Resulted in One of 2024’s Best Albums

By newadmin / Published on Saturday, 06 Jul 2024 14:14 PM / No Comments / 29 views


Ten years ago this month, everything seemed to be going to hell for Maggie Rose. In July of 2014, the Maryland-raised vocalist, then 26 and trying to find her lane in mainstream country music, dropped a song that should have finally given her the Nashville success so many had been predicting.

Instead, Rose’s answer to the bro-country trend, “Girl in Your Truck Song,” was eclipsed by another single with nearly the same title — Maddie & Tae’s “Girl in a Country Song” — released on the exact same day. Any remaining hope that Rose, who by then had released a half-dozen failed singles, had for a country radio breakthrough vanished.

“It was crazy and dramatic, and it felt like the world was over when that happened,” Rose says. “But I needed it to all fall away. That was an opportunity for me to look at what I was doing and change it, and make it more sustainable and more enjoyable for me.”

Now 36, Rose has succeeded in pulling off one of the most successful — and natural — reinventions in recent Nashville history, evolving from a country singer who never quite fit the myopic Music Row mold into a self-assured performer of soul, R&B, and American roots. Elements of country are still very much a part of Rose’s music too; and she’s an outlaw in the way she’s taken the reins of her career.

Sitting in the screened-in back porch of her East Nashville home while a late-afternoon pop-up thunderstorm rages around her, Rose is serene and focused. She’s leaving for a weekslong tour later that night that will canvas the northeast and Midwest, but she’s unhurried to pack, even as boxes of her latest album, No One Gets Out Alive — one of Rolling Stone‘s Best Albums of 2024 So Far — sit by the front door ready to be loaded up.

Rose shakes her head when recalling what she used to consider essential to success a decade ago. “Going on country radio tours and making sure that all the program directors like you, and pouring yourself into the success or failure of one song. You feel so one-dimensional,” she says. “Now, it’s been really organic in the sense that I’ve gotten to know myself better. It’s just as simple as making music that I love and doing it on my own terms.”

Raul Malo, the frontman for the Mavericks, a band that is often just as hard to define as Rose, enlisted her to sing on their latest album, Moon & Stars. He says the difficulty that lies in trying to classify her sound ultimately works in Rose’s favor.

“It’s harder, because you’re in this nebulous world, but that’s okay. You keep reinforcing the message that ‘I’m an artist, I’m an individual, this is what I do. I sing with whoever I want. This is the music that I make,’” Malo says. “And her album is killer.”

Released in April, No One Gets Out Alive is a dazzling journey that showcases Rose’s supple voice and her often cathartic songwriting. It furthers the distinct sense of independence that Rose began to foster in 2018 with the release of Change the Whole Thing, her first album not geared toward country radio, and 2021’s equally defiant Have a Seat.

Unlike many of Rose’s early country singles (Malo says he never viewed her as a mainstream country artist: “She’s too soulful”), she co-wrote every one of the 12 tracks on No One Gets Out Alive. In “Fake Flowers,” currently on the Americana Singles chart, she sings, “Nobody says what they mean to your face/It’s all just fake flowers and sympathy,” before declaring in a massive chorus, “I won’t let you take me down/no, no, you tried burning me to the ground.” “Mad Love” returns to the smoldering motif, with Rose crooning, “You lit a fire and my whole world burned down.”

While the record mostly glides along on good vibes, as Rolling Stone wrote in its review, those two album highlights were born out of some heavy feelings.

“‘Fake Flowers’ has a lot of anger in it. ‘Mad Love’ has a bit of anger as well, but also resolve and there’s a confidence in it too,” Rose says. “It was a really dark time. When I wrote a lot of these songs, I had relationships that were long lasting that just could not sustain the pandemic. There were relationships that were friendships that also had a work component that, once it was removed, it just became too tenuous.”

The team around her for No One Gets Out Alive, however, was rock solid. Produced by Ben Tanner, the album features guitarist Sadler Vaden and drummer Chad Gamble, of Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, keyboardist Peter Levin, and bassist Zac Cockrell, along with Rose’s touring bandmates Kaitlyn Connor on keys and Kyle Lewis on guitar. Don Hart came aboard to arrange the strings that thread the album together.

The wild card was the label that released it: Big Loud Records, home to some of country music’s biggest radio stars like Morgan Wallen and Hardy. Rose admits there’s an irony to her signing with the Nashville label in 2023, but says Big Loud encouraged her to take her music wherever it resonates, regardless of the audience.

“They know I’m a bit of an outlier, but instead of being confused by the fact that we can exist in a lot of different spaces, they’ve been motivated by it,” she says. “They’re giving me the resources that I’ve been asking of this town for a long time.”

Rose has toured with artists as varied as Kelly Clarkson and the Mavericks, and will open for Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge in Washington in September, alongside Neko Case. She’s also supporting jam acts like Dispatch and Tedeschi Trucks Band this summer in between dates on her own headlining tour. “I would never have expected to end up in this jam space,” she says, “but if you have an audience that’s connecting with you, then walk through the door.”

Bill Murray, the film actor, is one fan who’s made a connection with Rose and become an unlikely champion. Rose says they share a “funny, little sweet friendship” of about six years. In April, she performed at his annual Caddyshack charity event in St. Augustine, Florida, and posted a photo of her hugging him, as Murray shot one of his acerbic looks. She gleans wisdom from the eccentric view the comedian has of life.

“He’s been a really great confidant in so many ways,” she says. “He just takes everything in stride. He says people will exaggerate or embellish things, but if it’s right with you, it’s right with the world.

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“I think that’s how you have to make music too,” Rose continues. “I have to be satisfied with it first. And it just took a long time to get there.”

Right around this time, a gust of wind knocks loose a dead branch from a nearby tree, landing with a thud on Rose’s backyard shed. She barely looks up. Just one more old thing that needed to fall away.



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