June 02, 2013

Album Review: Caitlin Rose - The Stand-In

There’s no denying her kinship with country music, but considering Caitlin Rose solely as a country singer neglects the breadth of her resourcefulness. On both her 2010 debut EP, Dead Flowers (which in the title track saw her covering the Rolling Stones) and her 2011 LP, Own Side Now, she’s demonstrated remarkable versatility, exploring variations of pop and folk and alt.country with equal conviction. Along the way, whether encouraged by her own musical tastes and curiosity or by the environment in which she was raised—the daughter of two industry vets, she’s lived in Nashville since she was a young child—Rose has developed a rich and varied appreciation for the craft of songwriting. In concert, in fact, she's been known to cover such venerable songsmiths as Jerry Jeff Walker, Randy Newman, and Nick Lowe—her version of “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide” was a highlight of last year’s tribute album, Lowe Country—and that appreciation has no doubt informed her own artistry.

With her sophomore LP, The Stand-In (ATO Records), the 25-year-old singer/songwriter is at her most ambitious yet, following her muse and embracing her influences with startling assurance. She most notably reveals her honky-tonk roots in the album’s two covers, “Dallas” (by the Felice Brothers) and “I Was Cruel” (by the Deep Vibration), and in more subtle ways throughout. Yet she achieves a sense of eclecticism with these songs—more sophisticated-pop ones like “Everywhere I Go” and “Pink Champagne,” for instance, recall Elvis Costello and the Attractions' Imperial Bedroom more than Emmylou Harris’
 Elite Hotel—that gives this album its most rewarding character.  

There is no tentativeness plaguing this music, no rough edges to suggest that with but her second full-length Caitlin Rose remains well within the learning curve of her craft. Indeed far from sounding like an ingénue’s see-what-sticks experiment in discovering her creative voice, The Stand-In heralds an artist in full and fascinating grasp of her talent.