“It’s bold but safe, building a stable bridge between traditional country and folk to the ever-lively indie pop…”
Caitlin Rose | The Stand-In
The more we get access to any kind of music, the more aware we become of genres less accustomed to those of our own tastes. You explore their conventions and their structure. It gives you a wider knowledge of music, and when asked to review an artist you’re not familiar with; it’s often a journey of own self-discovery. So how do you know when you’ve stumbled upon someone imbued in their own genre? You know when you have listened to Caitlin Rose.
She’s a country singer, and I don’t mean that to detract away from the other thing’s she is – a graceful lyricist and a bewitching frontwoman – as she glorifies the sheer foundations of what a country singer is. The twenty-three year old tambourine-brandisher from Tennessee has already given us her debut Own Side Now; giving a fresh and modern take on the country psyche. Now, she takes the brave and bold step of her sophomore album, The Stand-In.
Opener ‘No One To Call’ is a sentimental take on love, showing off her innocence of amour and avidity growing up in the American Deep South. A raw and edgy Telecaster gives way to her enticing vocal; harkening to a temptress of yesteryear. “I’ve been searching for a love with a compass broken”.
Lead single ‘I Was Cruel’ is a light and compelling foot-tapper you could’ve easily selected on the jukebox decades ago. It’s melancholic content finds itself within a hearty banjo-led rhythm that simply glistens its way to one’s own dreams. Reminiscing sweet dreams of mild sadomasochism, the quaint quavers swirl gently in to scrumptious notes before ending in blanketing harmonies that allow this fine piece of music to play out.
Her influences vary here compared to her debut – southern blues meets 1950’s rock no roll on ‘Waiting On A Broken Heart’, playing on that seductive virtue with a sugary brass tinge. It’s wistful and timeless without giving too much of her soul away.
A lot has been made of Rose’s singing voice; parroting and summoning the great madams of country Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, nonetheless bringing an abstracted breath of fresh air to a typically ageing genre. Rising to her early promise, her meandering demeanour shines on ‘Pink Champagne’; a more sobering affair again showing her romantic valour “here’s to you, here’s to me/may we all drink a glass of pink champagne”; yet showing her vulnerability that it can bring through in “visions of Chantilly lace the tears in your eyes”, as though sat gazing out of a window on a hot Southwestern summer’s day.
Elsewhere, ‘Everywhere I Go’ is a crescendo of country building from a fainted blossom of sound to a harrowing end; ‘Menagerie’is a tad rowdier than the rest of the collection – likely to be heard at a modern day ho-down; ‘Only A Clown’ is your typical country ballad love story affluent with reflective and relaxing harmonies. Feline Brothers cover ‘Dallas’ is another stand out – a track that she breathtakingly makes her own. A jarring and vintage Patsy Cline-esque vocal enshrines all of her earlier influences with reference points including Dusty Springfield, Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt.
Overall, The Stand-In tightens the strings on her banjo whilst giving her a sounder footing within the country and music world. It’s bold but safe, building a stable bridge between traditional country and folk to the ever-lively indie pop that Rose can carry her merry little cart over. Still finding her way, it is an invitation to listen to life according to Caitlin – which would at once appear to be both retrospective and introspective.