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Growing up in Nashville, with a singer-songwriter mother and father dealing with the business end of country music, it’s probably no surprise that a young Caitlin Rose wasn’t really enamoured with her local music scene.
“In middle school I would say ‘I love everything except country and rap,’” she remembers from her Nashville home, while fighting a hangover after a long night.
“When I was 18 or 19 I fell in love with it. It wasn’t so much that I was rebelling against country as much as I wasn’t listening to it.
“I heard John Darnielle’s Mountain Goats cover a Merle Haggard song, I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink. I heard one of my favourite bands do a country song, so I thought I should too.
“A good song is going to translate for anyone’s ear.
“No one can deny the greatness of Ray Price’s voice – even my grandmother, who doesn’t love country music, says one of her favourite songs is by Ray Price.”
She moved on from the punk songs she was writing as a 19-year-old, and eventually put together her 2010 debut album Own Side Now to great critical acclaim.
The album was championed by the likes of The Sunday Times, The Independent, Evening Standard, Rough Trade shops, Time and The Sun, while Rose herself was invited to record sessions for Lauren Laverne, Marc Riley and made her UK television debut on the Newsnight Review show.
Now 25, Rose is releasing the album’s follow-up, The Stand-In, next week.
“With Own Side Now I didn’t know much about making records,” she admits. “The Stand-In wasn’t so much a plan as growing up a little bit and making something bigger.”
From opening track No One To Call the album boasts lush “Hollywood” strings, fuller band arrangements and Rose’s country-tinged powerful vocals.
The album features collaborations not only with producers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson, but also chief Jayhawk Gary Louris.
With all these collaborations the album highlight is arguably Golden Boy, the only song Rose wrote completely by herself.
“It was the last song for the record,” she says. “I’d been working on it for a long time. It took writing with Jordan and Skylar to get me to sit down and finish something on my own.
“It is a very special song to me, and closest to the sound I really would like to create on the record.”
Golden Boy has a vintage feel to its arrangement, with swooning strings, shuffling drums, pedal steel guitar and Rose’s vocals, which seem to sing directly into the listener’s ear – not unlike a softer version of the bruised romanticism of Richard Hawley.
She admits she doesn’t see self-expression as the central reason to write a song, although it plays a part.
“A lot are story songs pulled from an imaginary world,” she says. “They take on our traits, personalities and experiences without us being aware of it. Some songs are personal, some are story songs, but they all draw on emotion. It’s not so much seeing yourself in the song, but relating to the experience and where it comes from.”
Listening to the album it is amazing to hear that it came together relatively quickly. In the traditional Nashville manner, it was recorded in just a matter of days.
“I work a lot faster maybe than I should do,” she says. “We put the band together as we were writing the songs, practiced for about a week and a half and then went into the studio and tracked it. The longest bit was doing the overdubs and my vocals.
“It was fun, we do some heavy imbibing in the studio. We were hanging outside half the time, it was a relaxed vibe.”
Support from Steelism.
- The Haunt, Pool Valley, Brighton, Monday, February 25. Starts 7.30pm, tickets £10. Call Resident on 01273 606312