Singer-songwriter Maggie Rose has never been one to do things in a traditional manner. Take her 2014 single “Girl in Your Truck Song,” which subverted the hyper-masculine tropes of “bro country” as the country community was beginning to reckon with gender representation on both the radio waves and in the lyrics of hit songs.
Now, Rose is releasing her new music a little differently, too. Over the next several months, she’ll put out a series of “Digital 45s,” digital-only releases of two songs that mimic the once-standard 45-rpm vinyl single. She’ll release a new digital 45 each month, with the first, featuring new songs “It’s You” and “Smooth,” dropping today.
She recorded the tracks with her 11-piece band and tracked the songs live – no overdubs – at Nashville’s Starstruck Studios. All of the tracks released via the digital 45s series will eventually land on a forthcoming, as-yet-untitled full-length album.
The first of Rose’s two new tracks is “It’s You,” a giant, throwback soul ballad that shows off her dynamic vocals. Inspired by Etta James, the song, with its prominent background vocals and sweeping romance, also nods to the girl groups of the Fifties and Sixties that were so elemental to the development of modern pop and R&B, and contains shades of Aretha Franklin’s seminal version of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
“The way in which we captured this record with a large, live band in a throwback fashion definitely permeated into the writing room, particularly with ‘It’s You,’ Rose tells Rolling Stone Country. “Some of the powerhouses who inspired me to move to Nashville years ago were artists like Bonnie [Raitt] and Etta James, who made their own timeless albums in this town. After years of listening to them wail their hearts out on their records and make me feel everything they were feeling in that moment, I feel I had my own moment with this song to do the same in my own way with this incredible band.”
The b-side to the release is “Smooth,” a supremely funky rocker with hints of Grace Potter, Janis Joplin, and Kelly Clarkson. Rose and her band wrote the song the day before they began recording the new songs in August 2017, adding the track to their list of tunes to rehearse and record at the eleventh hour.
“It became quickly apparent that this song was an undeniable fit,” Rose says. “The excitement of how it came together and added to the complexity of the record as a whole was incredibly exhilarating and bonding. Finishing that first session so strongly with ‘Smooth’ set the tone for the rest of the record.”
Release dates for future digital 45s are May 18th, June 15th, and July 20th. Rose will perform at this year’s CMA Music Festival, and will tour throughout late spring and the summer.