Personnel: Maggie Rose (vocals, background vocals); Cade Doyle, Kenny Greenberg, Brent Mason (guitar); Biff Watson, Billy Panda (acoustic guitar); Dan Dugmore (electric guitar, steel guitar, dobro); David Grissom (electric guitar); Aubrey Haynie (mandolin, fiddle); Natalie Murphy (fiddle, background vocals); Glen Duncan (fiddle); Steve Nathan (piano, keyboards); Sarah Tomek (drums, percussion); Greg Morrow, Eddie Bayers, Shannon Forrest (drums); Jason Waters (percussion, background vocals); Raquel Wynn, Wes Hightower, Tania Hancheroff (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Julian King; Luke Wooten.
Recording information: Blackbird, Nashville, TN; Disgraceland, Nashville, TN; Loud Recording, Nashville, TN; Station West, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Gina Binkley.
Maggie Rose has everything it takes to be a country star in the 21st century. She has a powerful and slightly blues-infused voice, blonde good looks, and the kind of sassy, playful, take-no-bullshit attitude that makes her performances stand out in a crowd, a kind of good girl next door who isn't a stranger to turning up the bad girl alter ego when the song demands it. Although Cut to Impress, produced by Blake Chancey, Stephony Smith, and James Stroud, is her debut album, Rose isn't exactly new at this, having previously released a handful of singles and an EP under the name Margaret Durante (Rose is her middle name). Maybe the name change was the last needed ingredient in her emergence, because Cut to Impress does indeed impress, full of well-recorded, well-sung tracks that are poised to shine on contemporary country radio and yet cohere together in a solid sonic statement. The overall sound of the album is consistent, with forward mixed drums giving things a big sound and swampy electric guitars giving it some bite and snarl, but it's Rose's singing that makes it all work, and at times she sounds like the second coming of Shania Twain. There's so much to like here, and each track is catchy, but the best of them sound like can't-miss hits, including the haunting murder ballad mystery "Preacher's Daughter" that opens the set, the feisty "Mostly Bad," the beautiful, wise, and resilient "Better," the sassy "I Ain't Your Mama," and the sharp "Hollywood," which reckons that there isn't a big difference between Hollywood and Nashville, or anywhere else, for that matter, when it comes to relationships, drama, and the emotional roads we all have to travel. As debut albums go, this one arrives fully formed and ready to go, and if Maggie Rose doesn't end up being a major contemporary country star, well, then the whole thing is rigged. ~ Steve Leggett