Own Side Now - Caitlin Rose Album Review
When you go to purchase a book there are now, more than ever, similarly bound titles aimed at attracting the same sort of reader. The cover art for a Marian Keyes, or Sophie Kinsella, do not greatly differ in their style. You get an idea of the target market, and rather condescendingly, the publishing houses are defining your tastes by association, there is little chance you will be glancing over at Andy McNab and thinking that looks like a good title, because you won't like the cover.
In music this is less of an issue. With the notable exceptions of certain de rigueur Metal type faces, or Hot Panted young ladies adorning the latest Ibiza remixes, covers are not necessarily genre defining. This is good news for Caitlin Rose because if you had to judge an album by its cover this would rank in the lower echelons, equivalent as it is to a Mills & Boon. Caitlin, wearing a PlayMobil hair do, with sunglasses balanced on top, casts a sideways look out of the window behind her, all captured in a soft focus mirrors reflection, as if seeing Miss Ellie return in Dallas! Mercifully this is only the cover, and these days you can listen to almost all of the album before you buy. There are no longer any risks to be taken, gone are the days when you may have speculated on an album and bought it out of curiosity alone. Discovering new music has never been easier, although some of the romance in that initial discovery has been lost. For Caitlin Rose the music needs to speak volumes, and in many ways it does.
'Own Side Now' is Caitlin's debut album. Hailing from Nashville, and daughter to an established Country singer, Liz Rose (Previous collaborator with Taylor Swift), Caitlin has been on many peoples watch list after her critically acclaimed EP release, 'Dead Flowers'. The album is ostensibly country with a pop lilt. What lifts it above the ordinary are the key elements of Caitlin's fabulous voice as well as the quality of the song writing.
'Learning To Ride' sets us on our way, somewhat clumsily, with its talk of a Tennessee stud. "He took my words, spilled my beans into the herd." After the 'typecasting' of the opening number the better part of the album gets going. A more sombre mood, joined by soaring strings, takes us through the album's title track 'Own Side Now'. The arrangements are unfussy and Caitlin's voice of sparkling clarity rings out. Her lyrics are well observed and pertinently captured..."Who's gonna want me when I'm just somewhere you've been?" she asks with a heartfelt bitterness.
A song Caitlin wrote at the tender age of 16 is up next. Maybe because she was younger and had not yet been pushed, or corralled, into a more Country music pigeon hole, the song sounds all the better for it. 'For The Rabbits' is the standout track on Own Side Now. Starting with a Julee Cruise/Angelo Badalamenti sound we get more strings and keyboard flourishes coupled with more tales of troubled relationships...
Looking back at myself, it's wrong how much I've changed for you.
I sit back and watch my channels change just how you want them to.
I'm staring out this window. I'm avoiding your emotion.
I am hiding behind tappings of my fingers and the ocean.
Some of the songs are spoilt slightly by the added cliched touches of steel slide guitars and other trappings of C&W. Generally the Mark Nevers (Lamb Chop among others) production is good but you have to wonder how good an album it would have been if it were taken away from its Country roots. It's almost like it was made for a market (A huge and extremely lucrative one) and was possibly too afraid of the consequences of diversification.
Other notable songs along the way are the more up beat late 60's feel of 'Shanghai Cigarettes' and the sing-a-long style of 'New York'. 'Things Change' sees Caitlin ditching her current beau for a lover from the past who she now realises was "The one" whilst still in sorrowful mood she shines on 'Sinful Wishing Well'. The closer 'Coming Up' starts slow and sparse and builds and breaks back with each note and added instrument until she and the band deliver the succinct blows..."Forever the thorn in your side, I'll be the echo that you can never find...And you'll never find another way to say goodbye."
'Own Side Now' is a good debut that could have possibly been better. The songs are of quality but the arrangements are sometimes verging on twee. The Americans will probably lap it up, that being the conundrum of tastes at the very heart of my reservations. What will be of interest is how Caitlin applies her undoubted talents in future years, which direction she will take we will have to see, for now we have her great voice on an accomplished, if not spectacular, album.
- Thu 12th Sep 2013 Caitlin RoseO2 Shepherds Bush Empire (Shepherds Bush)Buy Tickets
- Fri 13th Sep 2013 Caitlin RoseThe Ritz (Manchester)Buy Tickets
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