Last summer, Maggie Rose got a nice career bump from a single titled “Girl in Your Truck Song.” Something of a wink and a grin toward the “bro country” dominating the airwaves, it cracked the top 60 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, has been streamed more than 1.6 million times on Spotify and left its singer with a lot to think about.
“It was supposed to be the first single off the upcoming album,” Rose said in an interview in early May. “I love the song, and it was just leading to so much more stuff than I was anticipating. It all became about the politics of the song, and what it meant.”
“What’s your stance on bro country?” she was asked time and time again.
That album, the follow-up to 2013’s well-received “Cut To Impress,” is still in the works.
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“I’m transitioning sonically to a little bit more of a pop sound,” Rose said. Her 7:30 p.m. set Sunday at the Sacramento Music Festival, she noted, will be one of her first opportunities to work those sounds in front of a live audience.
Maggie Rose was never singing just country songs
“The songs I’m creating and writing can range from Katy Perry pop to the other end of the spectrum – Americana, which can be too country by today’s standards,” Rose said.
That’s a relatively wide range, which fits her talents and her backstory. Rose grew up near Washington, D.C. “And D.C. has this little identity crisis,” she said. “We’re not north. We’re not south. We don’t have any one particular sound.”
Punk has history there. Hip-hop, too. Not so much country music. Margaret Durante – she wouldn’t use her middle name to become Maggie Rose for a few years – was singing a little bit of everything and gigging with a Bruce Springsteen tribute band when she moved to Nashville, a city that has a particular sound – of cash registers ringing.
Rose’s 2009 cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” earned her notice. She recorded a couple of songs featured on Disney Channel series. Still as Durante, she released a single, “Mississippi’s Crying,” that charted and a 2011 EP titled “Maybe Tonight.” The title track made the charts and the video debuted at No. 1 on Great American Country’s Top 20 Countdown – a first for an independent artist. After the name change, the 2013 “Cut to Impress” peaked at No. 36 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart.
Rose could sing a country song, but she was never singing just country songs. On her website, you can also find covers of John Legend and Fun. They live next to versions of songs by Merle Haggard and Carole King.
“The challenge is to have my voice be the thing that marries all the different styles together,” she said.
After “Girl In a Country Song,” Rose reassessed her direction. Before her trip to Sacramento, she was headed to Los Angeles to write and work on the next album. She’s excited to stretch and to introduce new sounds to new audiences.
“I look at some of my favorite artists out there, and their brand is their versatility,” Rose said. “I’m not going to start dressing like Lady Gaga or anything. I’m still going to be myself.”