Caitlin Rose's third album is a stylishly crafted work of beautiful songs, consummate musicianship and exquisite vocals. Packed with organ, strings, steel guitar, saxophone, piano, mandolin, trumpet and banjo, Rose, and her producers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson, have delivered an album that cements her reputation as a talent that matters in Nashville.
The songs are melodic and lyrical demonstrating not only her skill as a writer but her versatility as a performer. She also has the ability to perform covers and to make them her own. Her reading of the Felice Brothers "Dallas" is a steel guitar drenched paean to homesickness with Caitlin's voice conveying an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Meanwhile, she re-interprets The Deep Vibrations' "I Was Cruel" from a country blues number to an anthemic rendition with ringing twelve string, swirling steel, piano and insistent drums.
The album leads off with a crashing intro into the sadness of "No One To Call" with Caitlin recalling Lucinda Williams or even Kirsty MacColl. In contrast there is the pretty "Pink Champagne" a wistful recollection of a tacky Las Vegas style wedding with lush strings and pedal steel. Menagerie has a touch of Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison about it and "Old Numbers" is a deliciously lazy, trumpet led, piece of ragtime jazz.
The album is certainly a triumph of production and musicianship with traditional country and a pop sensibility blending seamlessly into a style where the whole is greater than the parts. But underpinning the album is the sound of Caitlin's voice. With great clarity she evokes the full range of emotions contained within these stunning songs with understated ease. She's got the voice, she's got the songs and she's got the band.
I quite literally `stumbled' upon Caitlin Rose, it was late one eve at a festival and her voice came floating out of the tent we were passing and we just had to check her out. This latest album offers more of the same, which may not be too everybody's liking but this is Country and Western with a modern leaning and I lurve it. First track just kicks off as a lament against the dirge that gets air play these days on radio in an upbeat melody with the full band kicking in rather well. `I was Cruel is next and slows things down with a gentle vocal and a guitar and steel back beat and a mandolin from guest player Charlie Worsham.
`Waitin' is a torch like ballad with gutsy chorus that Ms. Parton would be proud of. `Only a Clown' is just infectious pop - almost. It has an immediately likable riff and the mandolin plays almost rhythm and the beat is simple and driving but it just builds and her voice soars in an effortless way that makes you want to play again straight away - brilliant. `Pink Champagne' is the real; love song, all slowed down with pedal steel and a poetic lyric with smouldering double bass, this one just washes over you. `Dallas' is another one that you feel you have heard before and was co written with two of the Felice Brothers with an opening line of `Oceans of stars why've I gone so far' this is another favourite of mine.
`Golden Boy' is a nice tune but one of the not so great despite the use of strings to augment the bands backing, `Everywhere I Go' is another one that uses understated drum and bass to drive a deceptively beautiful song. `Silver Sings' is a song about a singer and is one of the lightest numbers on offer here but not in a bad way. `When I'm Gone' is another ballad with Fleetwood Mac type breathy backing vocals' `Menagerie' reminded me of 10,000 Maniacs at one point and is a solid way to bring us to the last track - `Old Numbers'. This is a `speak easy' type affair with bluesy trumpet and a plodding beat and is a lovely way to end what is a truly enjoyable album. Yes it is Country, yes it is not ground breaking and yes it is really very good indeed - can't wait to see her again drunk or sober this time.
on 25 March 2013
I have seen Caitlin twice and on both occasions she was excellent.
I loved the first cd, the lyrics, the voice were superb.
Sadly, as the critics fawn over her, they seem unable to really say the truth because Caitlin's star is in the ascendant.
Or maybe they don't want to be seen as "uncool."
I'll say it...her voice is gorgeous and strong as ever, but some tracks are poor and sickly sweet.
Maybe my expectations are too high, but this really is average.
Try Dale Watson and His Lone Stars or John Miller and His Country Casuals instead.
I hope the next cd is an improvement and a fitting return.
on 1 May 2013
Well, here we go... My first review, I have been buying music in record shops (remember them?) and on here for an eternity in every shape and form but have never felt the urge to put pen to paper (I wish) .....so anyway...Caitlin Rose, I first heard her on Marc Riley on 6 Music, then went and bought the first album...simply a breath of fresh air having that Nashville sound flowing through my speakers...and then this new CD, to be honest I was hoping it would be half as good as Own Side Now, but wow has she conquered that, this is bliss. Enjoy
I like this album, but it has its flaws which is a shame because it could have been really good, I think. Caitlin Rose writes good songs and sings them very well indeed. She has a lovely, expressive voice and the ability to put a song over exceptionally well. In an album dominated by loneliness and heartbreak she never slips into sloppiness and the over-sentimentality which could destroy an album like this and she is plainly a genuine talent.
The songs are varied in feel from the excellent, driving, rock-like opener No One To Call via the tango-tinged Waitin' to the tender love song Pink Champagne. Many are very good, although the latter part of the album seems to me to tail off into rather more ordinary material. There is some great, well-used slide guitar throughout and the band are very good. However, the bass and especially the drums are produced to give a rock-band sound and are very prominent throughout. This is very effective on the rocking tracks, but I found the drum sound horribly intrusive on I Was Cruel, Pink Champagne and other songs, and its dominance throughout the album really began to irritate even in songs I liked a lot.
This is a personal response, of course, and you may not mind it at all. It certainly doesn't spoil the album, but it does detract from it for me. I still think it's a good album with some terrific songs by a very talented singer-songwriter, but for me some slightly weaker material and some insensitive production mean it's not a great one. It's still well worth getting, though, and I can recommend it - Caitlin Rose is a class act and will be around for many years on this evidence.
As far as pleasurable albums go, you won't find many more albums released this year that will enrapture you as much as Caitlin Rose's second full studio album does. This magical mixture of country and rock, all with Rose's pretty, pure voice holding it together is good old-fashioned songwriting with masterful arrangements and perfectly judged instrumentation to give these tracks a timeless, classic feel. With the pedal steel guitars and her Nashville born-and-bred sweet country voice, you could forgive those who don't care for country music to give this a wide berth, but this is a country influenced album that even people who don't like country music will like. There are some tracks that sound a bit like they could have been sung by Patsy Cline, whereas other songs have more of a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers flavour. It is an eclectic enough album to please people who love various genres - pop, folk, country, rock; "The Stand-In" has a near-universal appeal, touching on elements of those genres without ever getting in deep enough to alienate any listener who deeply dislikes any one of them. Simply put, this is a classic singer-songwriter album packed full of superb compositions, produced impeccably by Jordan Lehning, Skylar Wilson and Caitlin herself and, most importantly of all, all sung beautifully by the immensely talented Rose.
The album starts enjoyably enough, with the upbeat, inoffensive, full sound of "No One To Call" and the sweet, country-tinged "I Was Cruel" and you could forgive a first time listener for thinking this album was nothing particularly special at that point. However, after those perfectly pleasant opening two songs, it gets so very much better. "Waiting", a superior country-rock composition, is one of my favourite tracks on the album, is superb, uplifting and catchy as hell. The high quality continues with "Only A Clown", a chiming, jangly rock-pop song with a satisfying, almost Jeff Lynne style, snare drum sound and is followed by the beauteous, emotive "Pink Champagne". The lovely "Dallas" is a big, expansive ballad, which sounds a little like those country-tinted Billy Joel compositions from his "Piano Man" and "Streetlife Serenader" albums, if they were delivered by a Nashville, sweet-voiced songbird, of course, whereas the lush "Golden Boy" sounds like the greatest Richard Hawley song he never wrote. The swelling, passionate "Everywhere I Go" finds strength in its subtlety and the George Harrison-esque guitar on the foot-tapping, hook-laden "Silver Sings" gives the excellent track a bit of a Travelling Wilburys feel. For my last pick of the album, we forward to the final song, past a couple of nice but unremarkable tracks, to the hazy, jazz-influenced "Old Numbers", a sultry piece you could almost imagine her performing in a smoky cabaret somewhere, complete with irresistible mute trumpet solo.
I cannot recommend this album highly enough and cannot imagine anyone not loving this album, unless they exclusively listen to techno, death metal or some other extreme, ear-bleeding genre. "The Stand-In" is head and shoulders above your typical female solo artist fayre, Rose's music has integrity, heart, soul and a superb cast of musicians to bring these songs to life. At just twenty-five years old when this was released, this mature, beautifully accomplished piece of work is just a couple of songs short of perfect, but with this amount of raw talent, the amazing instrument that is her voice and her impressive songwriting skill, the better songs (and they're in the majority) already make this one of the very best albums of 2013. Her other album ("Own Side Now") and E.P. ("Dead Flowers") are also well worth checking out as they are, arguably, just as good as this one - I think the album certainly is, anyway. Although I haven't finished enjoying this one, I will be looking eagerly forward to Caitlin's next release, because this talented young artist has a very bright future indeed.