Caitlin Rose, Caitlin Rose, Caitlin Rose. I’d feel awkward admitting that I’m rather obsessed with this Nashville chanteuse, were it not for a mitigating truth: you should be, too. Her debut album Own Side Now, released in 2010, was proof enough of her sweltering talent. And now we have a follow-up, The Stand-In, that’s superior in many regards. Her voice, already aspiring to the heights of Cline and Lynn, has become rounder, more chocolate-y. Her songs, already a stunning catalogue of broken love, sound even more heartfelt. Her…
… Oh, I don’t want to embarrass myself, so let’s get down to cold, musical facts. Perhaps the main difference between this album and its predecessor is the texture. Caitlin Rose’s backing band, Steelism, has a louder part to play here, such that this is less girl-with-guitar and more girl-with-band-and-strings-and-heavy-production-values. The album’s best songs, including ‘I Was Cruel’ and ‘Waitin’’, have a menacing sort of rumble to them. It injects the lyrics — ‘You said love has always been kind to you, now you know it can be unkind too’ — with an even stronger dose of bitterness and regret.
There are some quieter moments in The Stand-In, but these also happen to be some of its weaker ones. ‘Golden Boy’ and ‘Old Numbers’ are decent songs in themselves, but the Hawaiian swoon of the former and the Twenties jazziness of the latter veer towards pastiche, sounding out of place amid the rest. Yet that’s as impartial as I’m going to be when it comes to Ms Rose: this is a fantastic album from a fantastic gal.