Release Date: Mar 15, 2011
Record label: Names
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It was not too long ago that Caitlin Rose's debut EP, Dead Flowers, hit the fair shores of the UK. It was a great little release (not too little, too late, thankfully, as it was released in the US in '08) that served only to whet my appetite for what could come. I wanted more songs! Full band! Caitlin belting the tunes! A capella! I just wanted to see what this taster could blossom into.
Earlier this year, Nashville-based Caitlin Rose released an EP of songs recorded in 2008, which introduced a promisingly wry lyricist unable to decide whether she wanted to sound like Loretta Lynn or Kimya Dawson. On her debut album, the 23-year-old thrillingly finds her own voice. Own Side is sad and strong as she walks away from a careless lover, playful in Spare Me as she dashes off the delicious line: "Love is just one more useless thing you don't need, but you can't throw away." Now pure country, her songwriting has taken a leap, too, delivering a profusion (sometimes an excess) of memorable choruses and arrangements freighted with emotion.
As is so often the case with American artists whose appeal isn't exactly straight down the middle, Caitlin Rose was initially more successful overseas than in her homeland. But it's not as tragic a tale as it might sound, since "initially" refers only to the period of time during which her entire output consisted of her debut EP, Dead Flowers. The arrival of the young singer/songwriter's first full-length release, Own Side Now, represents a chance for Rose's sound to find wider acceptance stateside.
The easier it becomes to get access to any and all kinds of music—and information on that music—the more aware we become about what different genres do, what their conventions are, how they use structure—hell, even what topics they address. This makes (or should, anyway) for a wider knowledge of music, but it also might make you question if an artist is the genuine article in a particular genre. Like the listener, the musician has the same access, and we’ve seen plenty of bands turn into quasi-professional music theorists, applying elements from different genres adroitly but often without rhyme or reason other than it sounds (at best) great and (at worst) just different.
Despite the fact that her mother, Liz Rose, is an award-winning country songwriter whose credits include some of Taylor Swift’s biggest hits, Caitlin Rose has struggled to find an “in” in Nashville. Her full-length debut, Own Side Now, was released overseas last summer to wide acclaim, and its belated U.S. release underscores many of the reasons why Rose is at odds with what’s currently in fashion on Music Row.
One can imagine the massive wardrobe necessary for Caitlin Rose when she plays her new album, Own Side Now, live. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter’s full-length debut has been out since August in the United Kingdom, where she’s a critic’s darling, but is only now making it Stateside. Remember the name, and all her musical costumes: Rose is a talent who’s sure to be around for a while.
Ten tracks of timeless, simply adorned song-craft never constrained by Nashville tropes. David Sheppard 2010 Tambourine-wielding 23-year-old Tennessean Caitlin Rose had musical antennae wagging at the beginning of the year with her debut EP, Dead Flowers: an opening salvo which evinced a refreshingly ballsy yet ingenuous approach to the country idiom. One national newspaper dubbed her “the most exciting act in Nashville right now,” which might be regarded as small beer by more cynical observers of contemporary country’s mawkish power ballad predilection, although it should certainly have had fellow Nashvillians Lambchop and Cortney Tidwell looking to their laurels.
Caitlin Rose is from the side of Nashville, Tenn., that gave us Lambchop and Paul Burch & the WPA Ballclub – the side where the roots of country music are still treasured and utilized as a jumping-off point to address these restless times. While not quite as literary-minded, Rose possesses at 23 the same precocious talents as locals Sarah Jarosz and Sahara Smith, namely the ability to invoke universal thoughts with remarkable lucidity. She's also difficult to pigeonhole.