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BBC – Music – Review of Caitlin Rose

Written by on October 19, 2020

Born and raised in Nashville, with parents immersed in the music business, it is perhaps not surprising that Caitlin Rose sounds like the essence of modern country music.

After youthful flirtations with punk, her 2010 debut Own Side Now was a charm-filled Americana-laden introduction to her talents. Now, three years on, its follow up seems no less likely to enchant.

Rose has an expressive voice, possessing both purity and trueness of pitch, and an appealingly human, direct tone. Only occasionally ornamented with harmonies, as on Only a Clown, the album otherwise opts to showcase it unadorned.

The vocal performance on the sweetly romantic wedding song Pink Champagne is slow, languorous and quite gorgeous: Rose savouring the tune and the sentiments in the least showy yet somehow most effective way possible.

The contrast between this wonderful singing and the sentiments expressed in many songs adds grit to what might otherwise risk blandness.

The streak of mild emotional sadomasochism in songs like I Was Cruel (“I never knew I was cruel… baby, ‘til I met you”), or Waitin’s “the love that’s gone, baby, hurts the best” is all the more interesting when combined with such tuneful delivery. The F-bomb dropped on Dallas, too, is pleasingly jarring.  

Heartbreak abounds, from opener No One to Call’s broken “radio heart” to Silver Sings’ “way that only broken hearts can tell” and Menagerie’s plaintive description of “two lonely people with nothing to say”.

This is often made more poignant by the subtle touches of accompanying pedal steel or flourishes of Hammond organ, reminders of the artist’s and the album’s country music chops.

After a delightful run from No One to Call to Golden Boy, on which Rose seems to be channelling a 1950s Doris Day-type matinee idol, things drop off a little. Both Everywhere I Go and When I’m Gone trade some of their Nashville allure for a more ordinary, AOR direction, and suffer for it.

Mainly, though, if Caitlin Rose is the future of Nashville and American country music, then it would seem that its future is in safe, appealing and mellifluous hands.

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