caitlin rose cover art

Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In (Names)

As terrible as it could potentially be to label a musicians newest material as ‘Mature’ it really is the only way to describe the songs contained on The Stand-In, the latest album from Nashville’s own Caitlin Rose.

But wait, lets clear this up.

When the term Mature is used it’s not meant in the negative sense to describe the bloated, beige snooze-a-thons that unfortunately occur when a musician or band has a bigger budget and access to the best studio, talented producers and ego-motivating drugs. For Caitlin Rose, a singer whose voice with its flecks of Loretta Lynn attitude and Patsy Cline soul has always been a cut above her contemporaries, the tag of maturity is found after the first initial listens of ‘The Stand-In’.

On previous releases that voice has been underpinned by sparse pedal steel and acoustic guitars creating an intimate sound and a hint of what Rose’s voice, when it soars during choruses, would sound like with a fuller arrangement. Keeping with the exceptional musicians that record and tour with her, The Stand-In’s twelve songs branch out into a myriad of genres. Opener ‘No-one to Call’ explodes with Jeremy Fetzer’s chiming guitar chords providing the solid backdrop for Rose’s gorgeous vocals and Spencer Cullum Jr’s fluid pedal steel lines to effortlessly wrap themselves around is a perfect starting point to display this rich, expansive sound. Further on down The Stand-In’s tracklisting sees the country-pop of ‘I Was Cruel’ and the potential hit-in-waiting ‘Only a Clown’ (co-written with The Jayhawks Gary Louris) grab the listener with captivating hooks and layer upon layer of swooning melodies and vocals.

The Stand-In’s expansion of styles really shows off the talent contained in Rose’s bandmates. Spencer Cullum Jr envelopes sweet slide guitar lines around songs with the skill and the effortless knack of a Nashville session musician three times his age. While Jeremy Fetzer’s guitar is capable of providing a solid rhythm section to up-tempo rockers ‘Menagerie’, the slow burning, National-lite of ‘Everywhere I Go’ and subdued country bliss with the enchanting guitar lines that float over ‘Pink Champagne’ and the Linda Ronstadt prettiness of ‘Golden Boy

What makes The Stand-In such a perfect album is Caitlin Rose’s vocals throughout. Capable of a spine-tingling power as her vocals soar over the endless choruses that come in waves and honing in, but not losing, the sassiness that saw her labelled such a precocious talent when she first appeared with the Dead Flowers EP. Maybe a combination of working with different musicians and songwriters has brought Rose’s own talent for the impressive, honest songwriting that made 2010’s Own Side Now such a critically acclaimed record to the forefront of The Stand-In’s twelve songs.

With what will undoubtedly end up on many end of year lists, Caitlin Rose has made an album that brims with beauty and charm and containing some of the sweetest songwriting that will be heard this year. The Stand-In is the warmest 39 minutes you will hear in 2013.

[Rating:4]

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