Timeless, wonderful music,
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This review is from: The Stand-In (Audio CD)
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.