With her penchant for boozing, smoking and swearing, Caitlin Rose is exactly what you want from your Deep South entertainer. Hailing from Nashville, Caitlin imbibes the music whilst disregarding the conservatism of the Bible belt. She makes country music with a cosmopolitan outlook, dragging the genre into the twenty-first- century with its spurs a-scraping.
With a voice capable of beautiful fragility whilst still retaining an aspect of grit, Rose's second album The Stand-In sees her sing of loss, love and drinking - all authentic Southern fare, but executed in a fashion which makes it new and refreshing. The lyrics are sardonic and confessional, talking of hitting people with “one last stone” and of “lonely people with nothing to say”, in a fashion that is both hilarious and occasionally jarring in its bluntness. In tone, it is no drastic deviation from her previous LP, but the relatively juvenile whimsy to which her excellent Dead Flowers EP bore witness is long since past; this is a record from an artist with increasing maturity, wisdom and talent, and doubtless a hangover to match.
There is a more rock oriented feel to this record that is evident from the outset. The overdriven opening chords of ‘No One To Call’ crash in immediately, starkly announcing her progression from gentle, acoustic led ballads to full-band barnstormers, albeit with the slide guitar and Hammond Organ rooting them into familiar country territory.
Despite this sense of familiarity, The Stand In witnesses Caitlin dabbling in a few genres that are somewhat atypical of her and her band. ‘Waiting On A Broken Heart’ is a soulful Back To Black-era Amy Winehouse number; the stabbing, pulsating piano chords and crashing drums adding a sense of drama to her tale of love’s pitfalls. Elsewhere, album closer ‘Old Numbers’ competently wields a touch of Weimar glamour; the blaring, jazzy horns bringing the record to a delightful finish in a similar way that ‘Goodnight Ladies’ did for Transformer.
Sadly, some of the tracks on The Stand In do veer rather dangerously into the centre of the road, and the album suffers as a result. ‘When I’m Gone’, is a particularly ambling number which lacks the flourish and charisma which is present in the majority, and the production on ‘Everywhere I Go’ is the only aspect it has of any particular note.
Despite this run of two poor(ish) songs, the album is largely excellent - a record bridging the gap between country music and popular music’s less derided genres perfectly. Rose seems to progress with each year - her live set more focussed, her records more diverse. Somehow she manages to do this without losing the unique humour in her work - and therein lies her charm and potency as an artist.
7Jon Clark's Score