Nashville singer-songwriter’s third album is a relaxed, confident set of 12 new songs highlighting her expertise in pop-country, with the emphasis on the pop
It’s been nearly a decade, but Caitlin Rose is stirring again. The last time we heard from the alt-country singer-songwriter from Nashville was back in 2013 with the excellent album The Stand-In. And then, apart from the odd Arctic Monkeys cover version, there was silence, apart from the issue of a deluxe version of her debut album Own Side Now last year.
However, the hiatus has now ended with the long-awaited release of Rose’s third album Cazimi. To long-time fans at least, it’ll seem like she’s never been away – it’s a relaxed, confident set of 12 new songs highlighting her expertise in pop-country, with the emphasis on the pop. This is no bad thing, especially given that one of her main collaborators on Cazimi is Daniel Tashian, best known for his work with Kacey Musgraves.
It’s names like Musgraves and Sheryl Crow that come to mind when listening to Cazimi. There’s a relatively low-key start to the album, with Carried Away and Modern Dancing slowly pulling us in, but it’s Getting It Right which is the first real attention-grabber of the record. Co-written with Courtney Marie Andrews (who also features on backing vocals), their harmonies and vocal interplay work really well together, managing to sound both wistful and hopeful all at once. Anyone who enjoyed the recent Plains collaboration between Katie Crutchfield and Jess Williamson will find similar alt-country delights in this song.
Rose is at her best when she cuts loose – Black Obsidian is built around a terrifically dramatic guitar arrangement, with a beautiful pedal steel cutting through occasionally, while Nobody’s Sweetheart is bright and breezy, with a chorus that stays in your head for days, the sort of song you could easily imagine KT Tunstall knocking out in her early days.
Cazimi is packed with beguiling melodies like that – so many in fact, that it’s amazing to think Rose has been on a break for nearly 10 years. Tracks like Lil’ Vesta and Holdin’ are at least the equal of anything the new wave of singer-songwriters like Stella Donnelly and Julia Jacklin have created. Even when the songs slip into formula, they still manage to sound big and dramatic – such as the reverb-soaked guitar on Gemini Moon which sounds like something that Chris Isaak may have written back in the early ’90s.
It all makes for a startlingly confident and welcome comeback for Rose – we can only hope that the opening line of the naggingly insistent closing track Only Lies (“I’ve got a feeling that I won’t be hanging around”) don’t ring true, and that Rose’s fourth album is with us a bit quicker next time around.