Doesn’t it sometimes seem that popular country music is starting to sound a little too much like just plain old pop? The raw vocals and twangy guitar have been buried beneath synthesizers and polished riffs. That’s perfectly fine; many would say it’s just another step in the evolution of country music. But if you’re looking for some new but old-fashioned Nashville country, Caitlin Rose is the cure for what ails you. The Stand In, the young singer’s second full-length album, is a beautiful ode to what country music used to be.
The album has all of the elements of classic country music: plaintive steel guitars, ambling banjos, the occasional organ, sad stories, and an expressive voice. Caitlin Rose has roots in country music (both of her parents work and raised her in the industry) and it’s clear that she has a lot of natural talent. That makes for a great album.
“Waitin'” is a flawless hybrid of a tango and a country waltz with a catchy, syncopated chorus. Be warned, it will get in your head and stay there for all of eternity. With lyrics like, “You said love has always been kind to you, now you know it can be unkind too,” it’s the perfect screw-you-and-screw-love breakup song. It’s the kind of song you want to belt out yourself, until you realize you’re on a train platform, surrounded by commuters. Whoops.
“Dallas” is a great old-school ballad about homesickness. The steel guitar almost sounds rueful. In just the first ten seconds of the song, you can tell you’re in for some nostalgia. But “Dallas” isn’t without its modern charms. In the first verse of the song, Rose sings “The runway is set, let’s move this fucking jet. I have to go, despite all sleet and snow,” and you remember that it’s 2013. Interestingly, though, it doesn’t take you out of the moment. By the end of the song, you’re feeling wistful.
There aren’t any bad songs on The Stand In. It’s as though each song has a different purpose. There are songs for rainy days, songs for great days, songs for long days, and songs to drift to sleep to. I do find myself confused by the album’s title, though. Who exactly is The Stand In? Surely, it can’t be Miss Caitlin Rose herself; she is an artist worthy of her own place in the alternative and country music communities.